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By: Aristophanes (446-389 BCE)

Book cover Frogs

Athens is in a sorry state of affairs. The great tragedian, Euripides, is dead, and Dionysus, the god of the theater, has to listen to third-rate poetry. So, he determines to pack his belongings onto his trusty slave, Xanthias, and journey to the underworld to bring back Euripides! Hi-jinks ensue.

By: E. L. Blanchard (1820-1889)

Book cover Whittington and his Cat

Whittington and his Cat, or Harlequin Lord Mayor of London was the 26th Grand Comic Christmas Annual, written by E. L. Blanchard for performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London in 1875. Pantomimes are a favourite Christmas entertainment in England, and in Victorian times were usually written in rhyming couplets. They featured a Principal Boy (played by a girl) and a Dame (played by a man). Over the years they became ever more elaborate with fantastic costumes, huge casts and spectacular transformation scenes...

By: Molière (1622-1673)

Book cover Miser

The Miser is a comedy of manners about a rich moneylender named Harpagon. His feisty children long to escape from his penny-pinching household and marry their respective lovers. Although the 17th-century French upper classes presumably objected to the play's message, it is less savage and somewhat less realistic than Molière's earlier play, Tartuffe, which attracted a storm of criticism on its first performance.

By: William Davenant (1606-1668)

Book cover Law Against Lovers

The Law Against Lovers was a dramatic adaptation of Shakespeare, arranged by Sir William Davenant and staged by the Duke's Company in 1662. It was the first of the many Shakespearean adaptations staged during the Restoration era. Davenant was not shy about changing the Bard's work; he based his text on Measure for Measure, but also added Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing — "resulting in a bizarre and fascinating combination." He made Angelo from the former play, and Benedick from the latter, into brothers.

By: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Book cover The Princess

The Princess is a serio-comic blank verse narrative poem, written by Alfred Tennyson, published in 1847. The poem tells the story of an heroic princess who forswears the world of men and founds a women's university where men are forbidden to enter. The prince to whom she was betrothed in infancy enters the university with two friends, disguised as women students. They are discovered and flee, but eventually they fight a battle for the princess's hand.

By: Alice Gerstenberg (1885-1972)

Book cover Alice in Wonderland (Drama)

A dramatization of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for the stage. In this version, Alice goes through the looking glass and encounters a variety of strange and wonderful creatures from favorite scenes of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the Through the Looking Glass. Including a conversation with the Red and White Queens, encounters with Humpty Dumpty, the Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat, and the Caterpillar, and of course everyone's favorite Mad Tea Party.

By: Amy LeFeuvre (1861-1929)

Teddy's Button by Amy LeFeuvre Teddy's Button

Teddy loves to tell the story of how his father heroically died on the battlefield and guards his button jealously. But this brings contention and strife when a new girl comes to town. Teddy begins to learn what it means to be a soldier under Christ, his Captain.

By: Anonymous

Irish Wit and Humor by Anonymous Irish Wit and Humor

Excerpted anecdotes from the biographies of Swift, Curran, O'Leary and O'Connell, relating humorous snippets of politics in 18th and 19th century Ireland. For some these may be poignant in addition to being humorous and for others they may be humorous in addition to being poignant. (

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

The Proposal by Anton Chekhov The Proposal

The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov’s Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage – materialistic gain rather than true love.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play. The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage...

Book cover Ivanov

Nicolai (anglicised Nicholas in this translation) Ivanov, a middle-aged public servant, is unhappy. His wife Anna, disinherited by her family after converting from Judaism, is dying of tuberculosis. He is deeply in debt. And his best friend’s daughter is infatuated with him. Comedy and tragedy ensue in truly Chekhovian fashion. An example of the young Chekhov’s maturing style, Ivanov is an early harbinger of themes that would recur throughout his work.

By: Aristophanes (446BC - 385BC)

Lysistrata by Aristophanes Lysistrata

Lysistrata read by the Classics Drama Company at DePaul. The Classics Drama Company at DePaul is a new gathering of Thespians and Classicists dedicated to performing and understanding ancient literature. If you live in Chicago and attend DePaul University, we welcome new additions to our group. Contact Dr. Kirk Shellko (kshellko@depaul.edu), if interested.First performed in classical Athens c. 411 B.C.E., Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is the original battle of the sexes. One woman, Lysistrata, brings together the women of all Greece, exhorting them to withhold sexual contact from all men in order that they negotiate a treaty...

By: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett The Grand Babylon Hotel

Theodore Racksole, a rich American multi-millionaire, buys the Grand Babylon Hotel, a luxurious hotel in London, as a whim – and then finds out there are strange things going on – a German prince is supposed to arrive but never turns up, someone is found murdered in the hotel, but then the body disappears. With the help of his independent daughter Nella and another German prince, Racksole sets out to solve the mystery.Bennett wrote this as a 15-part serial, for a lark, in 15 days, and sold it for 100 pounds. It first appeared in The Golden Penny in 1902, which described it as “the most original, amusing, and thrilling serial written in a decade”.

By: Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934)

The Amazons: A Farcical Romance by Arthur Wing Pinero The Amazons: A Farcical Romance

This 1895 farce inspired by the outlandish idea of women wearing pants, centers around the predicament of the three daughters of the eccentric Marchioness of Castlejordan, who determined to have sons, raised them like boys. She encouraged them to dress and act like boys at home, yet dress like ladies when out. As the girls come of age, they are conflicted. They want to please mother by acting as her sons, but, suddenly smitten with three gentlemen, they are compelled to grow up and be ladies. When their suitors secretly come to woo, they aren’t sure what to do……and what will mother do if she finds out?

By: Barry Pain (1864-1928)

Marge Askinforit by Barry Pain Marge Askinforit

A rollicking parody of the Margot Asquith memoirs, in which Pain’s character, Marge, beguiles us with the most personal details of her dysfunctional family, and delights in relating every cringing, if not wholly accurate, minutiae of her exciting private life.

By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson The Alchemist

An outbreak of plague in London forces a gentleman, Lovewit, to flee temporarily to the country, leaving his house under the sole charge of his butler, Jeremy. Jeremy uses the opportunity given to him to use the house as the headquarters for fraudulent acts. He transforms himself into 'Captain Face', and enlists the aid of Subtle, a fellow conman and Dol Common, a prostitute. In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirizes the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity...

Book cover Volpone, or, The Fox

Volpone is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean Era comedies. Volpone is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed, after a long illness, in order to dupe Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to Volpone’s house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of Volpone, as his heir...

By: Bill Nye

Comic History of the United States by Bill Nye Comic History of the United States

For American journalist and humorist Edgar Wilson Nye who wrote under the pen name Bill Nye in the late 19th century, facts are not to be presented in their newborn, bare state. They should be properly draped and embellished before they can be presented before the public. Hence, in the Comic History of the United States published in 1894, he gives his readers the facts. But in a bid to make the historical figures more human he describes them as “people who ate and possibly drank, people who were born, flourished and died, not grave tragedians posing perpetually for their photographs...

By: Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)

Gentle Julia by Booth Tarkington Gentle Julia

Penrod for girls in the form of Florence, the bratty younger cousin of luminous Julia Atwater, enlivens this romantic comedy set in Tarkington's Indiana of the early 20th Century.

By: C. J. Dennis (1876-1938)

The Glugs of Gosh by C. J. Dennis The Glugs of Gosh

First published in 1917, The Glugs of Gosh satirizes Australian life at the start of the twentieth century – but the absurdities it catalogs seem just as prevalent at the start of the twenty-first. The foolishness of kings, the arrogance of the elite, the gullibility of crowds, the pride of the self-righteous, the unthinking following of tradition – all find themselves the targets of C. J. Dennis’ biting wit.

By: Cal Stewart (1856-1919)

Book cover Uncle Josh's Punkin Centre Stories

A collection of comedic short stories from the perspective of an old country man.

By: Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)

Book cover Mistress of the Inn (La locandiera)

Mirandolina runs an inn in Florence alone with only the help of her loyal employee Fabricius, and all of her guests are in love with her. The wealthy but only newly aristocratic Count D’Albafiorita and the impoverished but noble Marquis di Forlipopoli vie for her affections while debating the respective value of wealth and nobility (and insulting each other a good deal along the way). The misogynistic Cavalier di Ripafratta scoffs at their shared infatuation and ridicules the idea of love, but will he too fall victim to the beautiful innkeeper’s charms? And can any of them win the heart of the independent Mirandolina?

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Book cover The Pickwick Papers

A sportsman who doesn't hunt; a poet who doesn't write; a lover with no one to love; all three are devoted to their cheerful and benevolent leader, Mr. Pickwick. Join him and his friends, Winkle, Snodgrass, and Tupman, as they tour the country in search of adventures, knowledge, and stories. Along the way, they have their share of mishaps, and meet plenty of interesting characters, both the good and the not so good. (Mr. Pickwick's dedicated manservant, Sam Weller, is a scene-stealer sure to delight just about everybody...

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby is a young Devonshire man of nineteen, handsome and hot headed, devoted to his sister Kate and his parents. Following the death of Nicholas’s father, they find themselves penniless, and travel to London to seek help from his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, a heartless, cunning rogue. He grudgingly finds employment for Nicholas in Dotheby Hall, a school in Yorkshire run by the brutal Mr. and Mrs. Wackford Squeers. Appalled at the condition and treatment of the school children, Nicholas rebels, escaping with Smike, a young man/child who has become devoted to him...

The Strange Gentleman by Charles Dickens The Strange Gentleman

Before he became a novelist, Dickens wrote several successful plays. This one from 1836, his first, he called, "A Comic Burletta in Two Acts". Characters arrive at a village inn called "The St. James Arms" and much confusion ensues.

Book cover Village Coquettes

Before he started writing novels, Charles Dickens tried his hand at theater. The Village Coquettes is a two act musical. Sadly the music was lost long ago so this will be a spoken version. This play completes the recording of the relatively unknown plays of Dickens in celebration of his 200th birthday!

By: Charles Lamb

Book cover Mr. H

Mr H is a farce that was first performed at Drury Lane in 1806. The plot is slender and revolves around a single rather feeble joke, but the characters are skilfully drawn and the sharp observations of contemporary fashion do much to divert the listener from the weakness of the central theme. More a comedy of manners rather than a true farce, this short play is best enjoyed as a gentle romp through the eccentricities of the Regency period.

By: Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857)

Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures by Douglas William Jerrold Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures

First serialized in Punch magazine in 1845, and officially published in book form in 1846, Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures presents a collection of 37 lectures delivered by Mrs. Caudle to her husband as a means of reproach for his trivial infractions. Also, the author marvelously incorporates typical elements responsible for disagreements between spouses including the antipathetic mother-in-law, the ne’er-do-well friends, and the jealous outbursts. Jerrold’s charming piece of satire introduces the Victorian married couple, Mr...

By: Edith Œnone Somerville (1858-1949)

Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Edith Œnone Somerville Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.

This is the first of three novels which Edith Somerville and her cousin Violet Martin wrote about the English Major Sinclair Yates who leaves the army to take up a position of Resident Magistrate in the West of Ireland in about 1895. The tales tell in a humorous way of his struggles with a new job, new culture, and with his landlord and neighbour Mr. ‘Flurry’ Knox whose prime, if not only, interest is in hunting, which forms the background to all the stories. Miss Somerville was herself the first woman anywhere to become an M.F.H.

By: Edna Ferber (1885-1968)

Roast Beef, Medium by Edna Ferber Roast Beef, Medium

This book follows the adventures of Emma McChesney, a smart and savvy divorced mother who travels the Midwest as a sales representative for a large skirt and petticoat manufacturer. Her many adventures with people, (including predatory salesmen and hotel clerks), are funny and poignant. She is hardworking and able to outsell the slickest of the men salesmen. She has learned to focus on her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock. Experience has taught her that it is usually best to stick to roast beef, medium and not get stomach ache with fancy sauces and exotic dishes...

By: Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941)

The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight by Elizabeth von Arnim The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight

The Princess Priscilla of Lothen Kunitz finds court life stifling and runs away to England with the elderly court librarian. Her intention is to live a pure and simple life filled with good works. But life among ordinary people in an English village is not what she expects it to be... (Introduction by Tabithat)

By: Emily Eden

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden The Semi-Detached House

If you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll enjoy Emily Eden's comic novels of manners, The Semi-Detached House (1859) and The Semi-Attached Couple (1860). At the opening of The Semi-Detached House, the beautiful (but rather petulant) Lady Blanche Chester, newly married and pregnant, is being installed in a suburban house while her husband is away. Her encounters with her neighbors, and the intrigues of the neighborhood, soon come to absorb and annoy her.

Book cover Semi-Attached Couple

Young and beautiful Helen Eskdale and fabulously wealthy Lord Teviot seem to be the perfect match. But when they marry, they find that misunderstandings and jealousies continually drive them apart. The machinations and intrigues of a large supporting cast surround the central question of whether their marriage will survive. Emily Eden's comedy of manners is reminiscient of Jane Austen's witty and ironic novels.

Book cover Semi-Attached Couple

Young and beautiful Helen Eskdale and fabulously wealthy Lord Teviot seem to be the perfect match. But when they marry, they find that misunderstandings and jealousies continually drive them apart. The machinations and intrigues of a large supporting cast surround the central question of whether their marriage will survive. Emily Eden's comedy of manners is reminiscient of Jane Austen's witty and ironic novels.

By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A life lived backwards, with events happening in reverse order forms the strange and unexpected framework of one of F Scott Fitzgerald's rare short stories. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was published in Collier's in 1927 and the idea came to Fitzgerald apparently from a quote of Mark Twain's in which he regretted that the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst at the end. Fitzgerald's concept of using this notion and turning the normal sequence of life on its head resulted in this delightful, thought provoking fantasy tale...

Porcelain and Pink by F. Scott Fitzgerald Porcelain and Pink

“Porcelain and Pink” is a comic one-act play from the 1922 short story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The plot involves a young woman in a bathtub and a case of mistaken identity. Characters:Julie – Holly BlissLois – Jc GuanThe Young Man – mbNarration and audio editing – Laurie Anne Walden

The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Offshore Pirate

This is a long short story in 6 parts from Fitzgerald’s 1920 short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers. It predates the screwball movie comedies of the 1930’s in that it features a determined young heiress trying to get what she wants out of life.

Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald Bernice Bobs Her Hair

Pretty but socially clueless Bernice lets her know-it-all cousin push her around, but eventually, something's gotta give! (Introduction by BellonaTimes)

By: G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Book cover Magic: A Fantastic Comedy

By: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)

More Goops and How Not to Be Them by Gelett Burgess More Goops and How Not to Be Them

Deep in the heart of every parent is the wish, the desire, to have other adults tell us, in an unsolicited way, just how very polite one’s child is! This perhaps was even more the case in 1903, when Gelett Burgess produced his second book on the Goops. With entertaining cartoons – cariacatures of misbehaving children – he described many different breaches of tact and good manners. Burgess wrote several books of poetry on the Goops, each poem describing some significant way in which an unthoughtful or unkind child could offend polite society and often offering the hope that the listener would never behave that way...

By: George Ade (1866-1944)

Fables in Slang by George Ade Fables in Slang

While a columnist for The Chicago Record humorist George Ade penned numerous “fables” which were subsequently collected into books. Fables in Slang is the first of these collections. It contains 26 satirical stories that lampoon phrenologists, idealists, snobs, fanatics and other ignorant fools of the day, most of which still wander through our modern lives. Jean Shepherd considered Ade a predecessor who made writers like James Thurber, Mike Royko, and himself possible. Fables in Slang was first published in 1899 by Herbert S. Stone and Company.

By: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion

If you've watched and loved the delightful musical My Fair Lady, then you'd love to read the wonderful play on which it is based. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is equally engrossing and as full of charm, wit and underlying pathos. First performed on stage in 1912, Pygmalion takes its title from the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. In the ancient story, a brilliant sculptor, Pygmalion falls in love with one of his own creations, a ravishingly beautiful sculpture whom he names Galatea. He propitiates Aphrodite, who grants his wish that his statue would come to life and that he could marry her...

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolates instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.

Book cover The Doctor's Dilemma

The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.

Candida by George Bernard Shaw Candida

Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband. The cleric is a Fabian Socialist, allowing Shaw—himself a Fabian—to weave political issues, current at the time, into the story.

Book cover Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara focuses on the family of aristocratic Lady Britomart Undershaft and her estranged husband Andrew, a millionaire armaments manufacturer. Their daughters Sarah and Barbara are both engaged to be married, and Lady Britomart decides to ask Andrew for monetary support. Barbara is a Major in the Salvation Army, and agrees to let her father visit the mission in the East End of London where she works. In exchange, she agrees to visit his munitions factory. The conflict between Barbara's philanthropic idealism and her father's hard-headed capitalism clash when he decides he wants to fund the Salvation Army...

Book cover Heartbreak House

On the eve of World War I, Ellie Dunn, her father, and her fiancé are invited to one of Hesione Hushabye’s infamous dinner parties. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a scoundrel, her father’s a bumbling prig, and she’s actually in love with Hector, Hesione’s husband. This bold mix of farce and tragedy lampoons British society as it blithely sinks towards disaster.

By: George Gissing (1857-1903)

The Paying Guest by George Gissing The Paying Guest

Clarence and Emmeline Mumford are in for a real treat when they take in the young, outspoken Miss Louise Derrick as their guest. Shedding a light on class struggles in the Victorian era, The Paying Guest offers a look at just what "proper society" expects.

By: George Grossmith (1847-1912)

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith The Diary of a Nobody

Grossmith’s comic novel unveils the daily chronicles of the pompous and clumsy middle-aged clerk Charles Pooter, who has just moved to the London suburb of Holloway with his wife Carrie. Nonetheless, the family’s fresh start is not quite what they had in mind. Set in the late Victorian era, the diary accurately documents the manners, customs, trends and experiences of the time. First appearing in Punch magazine through the years 1888-89, The Diary of a Nobody was first published in book form in 1892 and has entertained readers ever since...

By: Gideon Wurdz (b. 1875)

The Foolish Dictionary by Gideon Wurdz The Foolish Dictionary

“The Foolish Dictionary” was written by “Gideon Wurdz” and was published in 1904. According to the beginning of the book, it is “An exhausting work of reference to un-certain English words, their origin, meaning, legitimate and illegitimate use…” This a a short but amusing dictionary which “redefines” words in some interesting ways. Funny and sometimes bizarre observations are sprinkled throughout. In keeping with the policy to read, rather than attempt to rewrite, books – even those with offensive content – nothing has been omitted...

By: Harry Leon Wilson (1867-1939)

Merton of the Movies by Harry Leon Wilson Merton of the Movies

Merton of the Movies is a comedy that centers around Merton Gill, an aspiring dramatic artist from Simsbury, Illinois who makes his way to Hollywood to become a serious actor. How could Merton fail in attaining his dreams after finishing a correspondence course from the General Film Production Company of Stebbinsville, Arkansas, certifying him to be a competent screen actor? Harry Leon Wilson, the author, was a very popular humor writer in the first decades of the 20th century. This book was made into film several times, the last in 1947 starring Red Skelton.

By: Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894)

Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures by Heinrich Hoffmann Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures

Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter) is an illustrated collection of humorous children’s poems describing ludicrous and usually violent punishments for naughty behavior. Hoffmann, a Frankfurt physician, wanted to buy a picture book for his son for Christmas in 1844. Not impressed by what the stores had to offer, he instead bought a notebook and wrote his own stories and pictures. While Struwwelpeter is somewhat notorious for its perceived brutal treatment of the erring children, it has been influential on many later children’s books, most notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

By: Henry Fielding

The Old Debauchees by Henry Fielding The Old Debauchees

Young Laroon plans to marry Isabel, but Father Martin manipulates Isabel's father, Jourdain, in order to seduce Isabel. However, other characters, including both of the Laroons, try to manipulate Jourdain for their own ends; they accomplish it through disguising themselves as priests and using his guilt to convince him of what they say. As Father Martin pursues Isabel, she is clever enough to realize what is happening and plans her own trap. After catching him and exposing his lust, Father Martin is set to be punished.

By: Henry James (1843-1916)

The Europeans by Henry James The Europeans

The Europeans: A sketch is a short novel by Henry James, published in 1878. It is essentially a comedy contrasting the behaviour and attitudes of two visitors from Europe with those of their relatives living in the ‘new’ world of New England. The novel first appeared as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly for July-October, 1878. James made numerous minor revisions for the first book publication.

By: Herbert George Jenkins (1876-1923)

Book cover The Return of Alfred

The hero of the book is at a loose end, weary and bored of his old life after returning from the Great War. After an argument with his uncle and a railway strike he finds himself lost in the county of Norfolk at ten o’clock one night. When he seeks shelter in a country home, the butler immediately recognizes him as “Mr. Alfred”, the missing son of the house. From that point onwards, our hero, who gives his name as “James Smith”, finds himself in for an exciting time.Not only does he inherit the friends of “Mr...

By: Herbert Jenkins (1876-1923)

Patricia Brent, spinster by Herbert Jenkins Patricia Brent, spinster

A romantic comedy, written in 1918, but with a modern feel to it. Patricia Brent one day overhears two fellow-boarders pitying her because she “never has a nice young man to take her out”. In a thoughtless moment of anger she announces that the following night she will be dining out with her fiance. When she arrives at the restaurant the next day, she finds some of the fellow-boarders there to watch her, so, rendered reckless by the thought of the humiliation of being found out, she goes up to a young man sitting alone at a table, and asks him to help her by “playing up”. Countless complications and adventures ensue…

By: Heywood Broun (1888-1939)

Seeing Things at Night by Heywood Broun Seeing Things at Night

This Book is a collection of humorous short stories which describe the comedy in everyday things and situations.

By: Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944)

Cobb's Anatomy by Irvin S. Cobb Cobb's Anatomy

Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was born on June 23, 1876. At seventeen years of age, he began writing for the Paducah Daily News, his hometown paper. At nineteen he became the managing editor; up to that point, our nation’s youngest. He worked as a columnist, a humorist and an author. But ‘horror,’ and ’short stories,’ are not why he is remembered. He is remembered because he was, and still is, funny. And although he is now dead–he died March 11, 1944–this work “Cobb’s Anatomy,” among others, has left an indelible mark upon mankind: a smile.

By: J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)

The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie The Admirable Crichton

From the author of Peter Pan:Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor.

By: James Stephens

Book cover There is a Tavern in the Town

The soul of Irish wit is captured in this unique tale of a barstool philosopher, the concluding story from 'Here Are Ladies' by James Stephens. (Introduction by iremonger)

By: Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Emma by Jane Austen Emma

A comedy of manners, Emma portrays the spoilt, snobbish, yet charming Emma Woodhouse as she delightfully interferes in the relationships of others without taking much notice of her own heart. Although quick to make prejudgments and decisions, Emma is eventually able to notice her mistakes, and it is this revelation that makes her an endearing heroine and an inspiration to women throughout. Austen has not only created, but also brought to life the world inhabited by her characters through her vivid depictions and clever use of wit...

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a book about the life of Catherine Morland and her romantic relationships. The novel is divided into two parts; the first part begins with Catherine’s visit to Bath and her relationship with Henry Tilney and the other people she met there, and the second part starts with the arrival of Frederick Tilney and her visit to Northanger Abbey. This book alongside Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility is considered one of the major works of Jane Austen. The novel had undergone many revisions before its publication and it was even originally titled “Catherine...

By: Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1827)

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

If this is your first encounter with Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) you're certainly in for a treat! One of the most delightful examples of Victorian humor, this book by Jerome K Jerome is all the way a fun cruise down the Thames River with some funny characters for company. Three Men in a Boat was originally meant to be a serious piece of travel writing, full of local flavors, legends and folklore about England's mighty river. As it turned out, somewhere along the way, the author Jerome found himself catapulted into a madcap adventure...

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and helped establish him as a leading English humorist. The book consists of 14 independent articles arranged by themes.

Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome Three Men on the Bummel

Our Friends from Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog, are back. In this funny sequel to Three Men in a Boat J., George, and Harris are out of the boat and on the land riding their bikes. Their lives are too stressful and they need a break from the daily mundane, so they put their heads together and come up with a brilliant idea they decide to travel through the Black Forest of Germany on a bicycling tour. Since two of our friends are now married it seems they will also have to convince...

Stage Land by Jerome K. Jerome Stage Land

A comic look at the curious habits and customs of the inhabitants of ‘Stage Land’. Dedicated to ‘that highly respectable but unnecessarily retiring individual, of whom we hear so much but see so little, “the earnest student of drama”

By: Jesse Lynch Williams (1871-1929)

Why Marry? by Jesse Lynch Williams Why Marry?

Why Marry? is a comedy, which "tells the truth about marriage". We find a family in the throes of proving the morality of marriage to a New Age Woman. Can the family defend marriage to this self-supporting girl? Will she be convinced that marriage is the ultimate sacredness of a relationship or will she hold to her perception that marriage is the basis of separating two lovers."Why Marry?" won the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

By: John Dryden (1631-1700)

Book cover Tempest

John Dryden and William D'Avenant's Restoration adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest preserves the main plot and characters of the original. Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, lives on an isolated island with his daughter Miranda, and plans to take revenge on his brother Antonio, who usurped his throne. He is aided by his servant, the airy sprite Ariel, and is hated by his other servant, the monster Caliban. Dryden and D'Avenant added in a number of characters: Dorinda, Prospero's other daughter, Hippolito, a young man who has never seen a woman, Sycorax, Caliban's sister, and more spirits and comic mariners...

By: John Fletcher (1579-1625)

Book cover The Woman's Prize, or The Tamer Tamed

John Fletcher's comedy (probably written and performed around 1611) is a sequel to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, in which, as the title suggests, the tamer will be tamed. Petruchio, the shrew-tamer, has been widowed, and marries a second wife, Maria, a "chaste witty lady." At the instigation of her cousin Bianca, and with the fellowship of her sister Livia, Maria decides to go on strike for equal rights, refusing to behave as a proper 17th century wife. Fletcher's play addresses the issue of men and women's roles within marriage, a controversial issue for his day.

By: John Galsworthy (1867-1933)

Book cover Skin Game

A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers,...

Book cover Skin Game

A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers,...

By: John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

The Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs The Idiot

The Idiot is anything but, yet his fellow boarders at Mrs. Smithers-Pedagog’s home for single gentlemen see him as such. His brand of creative thought is dismissed as foolishness yet it continues to get under their skin, because when you’re beneath contempt you can say what you please. – This is the first of John Kendrick Bangs' “Idiot” books and was published by Harper and Brothers in 1895.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

Genial Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs Genial Idiot

John Kendrick Bangs once again takes us on a journey with the loveable, but somewhat self-opinionated and irritating Mr Idiot.

By: John Wight (1866-1944)

Mornings at Bow Street by John Wight Mornings at Bow Street

This is a collection of various articles found in Morning Herald columns. Some are found interesting, some may be hilarious! The 84 pieces of this book are actual reports throughout the 1870s newspaper written by the reporter, John Wight and Illustrated by George Cruikshank

By: Lording Barry (1580-1629)

Book cover Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks by Lording Barry

Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, is a bawdy comedy by Lording Barry, a contemporary of Shakespeare. The production bankrupted Barry, landed him in debtor's jail, and set him off on a life of piracy. The action of Ram Alley takes place in a disreputable London lane where lawyers, lords, and ladies rub shoulders with prostitutes and vagabonds. One 19th century editor complained that it was "full of gross passages, allusions, and innuendoes," but more recent commentators have seen past the risque gags and recognised the play's wit, complexity, and intelligence...

By: Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

Montgomery’s literary classic recounts the exciting adventures undertaken by the fiery eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan girl accidentally adopted by middle aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. A coming-of-age novel, Anne of Green Gables focuses on Anne’s new life at Green Gables farm in Avonlea and her adjustment into the Prince Edward Island community. The story launches when the aging siblings Matthew and Marilla decide that they could use an extra hand around their farm, and believe that adopting an orphan boy would be an appropriate solution...

By: Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Regarded as the pride and joy of American literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a picturesque novel depicting Huck’s epic journey from boyhood to manhood and the struggles he must face living in a corrupt society. The novel serves as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, another famous work by Mark Twain. The plot unfolds in several locations sometime before the Civil War. The book opens with a description of Huck’s new life as he undergoes a process of “civilization” while living with the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson...

1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors by Mark Twain 1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors

An atypical piece of writing by Mark Twain, the short bawdy skit documents a conversion between Queen Elizabeth and several notable writers of the time, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Beaumont, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. Despite first being published in 1880, the piece remained anonymous for a period of time, until it was later acknowledged by Twain in 1901 as his own. Comprised of humor, descriptive imagery, ribald connotations, and vulgar language, the faux conversation is simultaneously humorous and repulsing, but nonetheless a wonder for its satirical precision...

The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories by Mark Twain The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories

A collection of comical short stories by renowned American humorist and author Mark Twain, the compilation features 30 stories published in 1906. Presenting a colorful array of tales, the short stories cover various periods of Twain’s writing career, while also allowing him to revise and perfect each story. Exploring various topics including abusive hierarchical power, human recklessness, and backfiring expectations, the collection offers a sweet treat to satisfy every taste. The anthology begins with the story “The $30,000 Bequest” which introduces the married couple Electra and Saladin who live a modest yet comfortable life with their two daughters...

Extracts from Adam's Diary by Mark Twain Extracts from Adam's Diary

Get the true story of Adam and Eve, straight from the source. This humorous text is a day-to-day account of Adam’s life from happiness in the “GARDEN-OF-EDEN” to their fall from grace and the events thereafter. Learn how Eve caught the infant Cain, and Adam takes some time to learn exactly what it is.

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain A Tramp Abroad

A Tramp Abroad is a work of non-fiction travel literature by American author Mark Twain, published in 1880. The book details a journey by the author, with his friend Harris (a character created for the book, and based on his closest friend, Joseph Twichell), through central and southern Europe. While the stated goal of the journey is to walk most of the way, the men find themselves using other forms of transport as they traverse the continent. The book is often thought to be an unofficial sequel to an earlier Twain travel book,The Innocents Abroad...

Eve's Diary by Mark Twain Eve's Diary

Eve's Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper's Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the Judeao-Christian creation myth, Eve, and is claimed to be "translated from the original MS." The "plot" of this novel is the first-person account of Eve from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam, including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden...

The Awful German Language by Mark Twain The Awful German Language

This long essay is a work of mock philology, one of several appendices to Twain’s travel novel, A Tramp Abroad. In it, Twain explains, complains about, and shows how one might improve upon various aspects of the (awful) German language. His examples of precisely how the German language is awful include the famed “separable verb” – which allows one to put the first part of a given verb at the beginning – and its second part at the end – of a given clause or sentence (which may, indeed, be very long)...

The Stolen White Elephant by Mark Twain The Stolen White Elephant

"The Stolen White Elephant" was written by Mark Twain and published in 1882. In it, an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to the Queen, disappears in New Jersey. The local police department goes into high gear to solve the mystery but it all comes to a tragic end. Twain's satirical look at the police and newspaper worlds of the 1880's illustrates some of the more outrageous proclivities of each.

Book cover Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance

Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance, a short volume, published by Sheldon & Co., NY in 1871, is Mark Twain's third book. It consists of two stories - First Romance, which had originally appeared in The Express in 1870, and A Burlesque Autobiography (bearing no relationship to Twain's actual life), which first appeared in Twain's Memoranda contributions to the Galaxy. Rather, the content consists of a few short stories of fictional characters who are supposedly part of Twain's lineage...

The American Claimant by Mark Twain The American Claimant

The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The story focuses on the class differences and expectations of monarchic, hierarchical Britain and the upstart, "all men are created equal" America. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. Indeed, all the weather is contained in an appendix, at the back of the book, which the reader is encouraged to turn to from time to time.

Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion by Mark Twain Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion

Written for the Atlantic magazine in 1877, this is a collection of stories about a trip Mark Twain made with some friends to Bermuda. It contains fascinating descriptions of Bermuda the island, and some of its people as well as an explanation of why Bermuda's houses are "so white".

By: Mary Keith Medbery Mackaye (1845-1924)

Pride and Prejudice: A Play by Mary Keith Medbery Mackaye Pride and Prejudice: A Play

Pride and Prejudice, a comedy of manners and marriage, is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels. In this dramatic adaption by Mary Keith Medbery Macakaye some liberties are taken with the storyline and characters, but it is still a fun listen or read. Perhaps a good introduction for someone not ready to tackle the complete novel ~ and for the reader familiar with the work, a laugh can be had at the changes that were made in order to adapt it to the stage

By: Molière

Tartuffe by Molière Tartuffe

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known works is Tartuffe or The Hypocrite, written in 1664. Though Tartuffe was received well by the public and even by Louis XIV, its popularity was lessened when the Archbishop of Paris issued an edict threatening excommunication for anyone who watched, performed in, or read the play.Tartuffe, a pious fraud who pretends to speak with divine authority, has insinuated himself into the household of Orgon...

By: Moliere (1622-1673)

Book cover The Imaginary Invalid

The Imaginary Invalid is a three-act comédie-ballet by the French playwright Molière. It was first performed in 1673 and was the last work he wrote. The plot centers around Argan, the 'imaginary invalid' who is completely dependent on his doctors and wants to marry his daughter to a doctor against her will, so that he will always have medical care freely available to him. In an ironic twist of fate, Molière collapsed during his fourth performance as Argan on 17 February and died soon after.

By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde The Canterville Ghost

An American diplomat's family moves into an ancient stately mansion. They're warned by the owner that it is haunted by a most horrifying and gruesome spirit who had once cruelly murdered his own wife. The story progresses with creaking floor boards, mysterious passages, dark attics, clanking chains, and weird howling. Yet, the reader is totally unprepared for Oscar Wilde's brand of tongue in cheek humor as he takes all the ingredients of a traditional ghost story and turns it on its head, and creates a hilarious parody instead of a morbid saga! The Canterville Ghost was the first of Oscar Wilde's short stories to be published...

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest

A wealthy philanthropist adopts an abandoned baby he finds in a railway station waiting room. The child grows into a fine, upstanding young man. When his benefactor dies, he is made the guardian of the old man's lovely young daughter. But unknown to everyone, he leads a double life that even his best friend knows nothing about... If you thought that this has all the makings of a most sinister and diabolical plot, you couldn't be more mistaken. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a light as a feather confection, full of mischief, fun and laughter! Written in 1894, this was Wilde's last play...

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde An Ideal Husband

This story opens at a fashionable dinner party in Sir Robert Chiltern's home in the heart of London's stylish Grosvenor Square. One of Lady Chiltern's old school-friends, Mrs. Cheveley, a woman with a dubious past, accosts Sir Robert and threatens to expose a financial crime that he had once participated in, unless he agrees to finance a fraudulent construction project that she's promoting. Lady Chiltern is astounded when her husband who had been the severest critic of this project suddenly begins to speak in its favor...

Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermere’s Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, published in 1893. As in some of his other comedies, Wilde satirizes the morals of Victorian society, and attitudes between the sexes. The action centres around a fan given to Lady Windermere as a present by her husband, and the ball held that evening to celebrate her 21st birthday.

A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance is a play by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. The play premièred on 19 April 1893 at London's Haymarket Theatre. It is a testimony of Wilde's wit and his brand of dark comedy. It looks in particular at English upper class society and has been reproduced on stages in Europe and North America since his death in 1900.

By: Owen Wister (1860-1938)

The New Swiss Family Robinson by Owen Wister The New Swiss Family Robinson

A parody of its famous predecessor, this short piece was written by Owen Wister for the Harvard Lampoon

The Dragon of Wantley by Owen Wister The Dragon of Wantley

A novel, The Dragon of Wantley, was written by Owen Wister (best known as the author of The Virginian) in 1892. Published by Lipincott Press, the story is a comic "burlesque" (in the author's words), concerning the "true" story of the Dragon. It is a romantic story set at Christmastime in the early 13th century. The book was a surprise success, going through four editions over the next ten years. This is the 1895 edition.

Philosophy 4: A Story of Harvard University by Owen Wister Philosophy 4: A Story of Harvard University

Owen Wister's wry humor enlivens this comedic story of three sophomores during exam week at Harvard.

By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves

If you're encountering the zany Bertie Wooster and his exceptionally astute Man Friday, Jeeves, for the first time, be assured that you're embarking on a lifetime of fun and laughter! On the other hand, for eternal Wodehouse fans, Right Ho Jeeves provides more glimpses of the delightful world created by one of the best loved English writers. It is the second in the series of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves novels and features some of the regular characters of Brinkley Court, the country seat ruled over by Bertie's much-loved Aunt Dahlia...


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