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By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

Book cover The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham is the most widely read of W.D. Howells’ novels. An example of literary realism, the story is about a farmer (Silas Lapham) who launches a very successful paint business, and moves his family up the social ladder of Boston. Lapham, however, is not one of the new types of American businessman, the ruthless plutocrat, rather he is the old-fashioned trustworthy Yankee trader, and the story deals with how he fares in the industrial capitalist environment. It is also a novel of manners, telling the story of the courtship of a daughter, and the difficulties the family deals with in attempting to move from one social class to another.

A Little Swiss Sojurn by William Dean Howells A Little Swiss Sojurn

A charming brief account of a two months' autumnal stay on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. Howells, who was there with his family traveling from England to Italy, has a sharp eye not only for scenery and architecture, but for people and customs, both Swiss and foreign.

Book cover Annie Kilburn

After 11 years in Rome, Annie Kilburn returns home to the US after the death of her father. But the home she knew is dramatically changed in many ways. She starts to work with sick children, and finds herself attached to them, and to the minister who helps her, Mr. Peck.

Book cover Hazard of New Fortunes

Howell’s novel is set in New York of the late nineteenth century, a city familiar to readers of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Basil March, a businessman from Boston of a literary bent, moves with his family to New York to edit a new journal founded by an acquaintance. Its financial support, however, comes from a Mr. Dryfoos, a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer suddenly become millionaire by the discovery of natural gas on his property, and now living in New York with his family in a style he hopes will befit his new wealth...

Book cover Coast of Bohemia

William Dean Howells is at his iconoclastic best in this exploration of bourgeois values, particularly in the clash between respectable society and the dubious bohemian world of Art and Poetry. Cornelia Saunders has everything going for her in her middle-class world: comfort, good looks, attentive young men. She seems willing to risk it all for the sake of what might be an artistic Gift, venturing with great trepidation to put her foot over the line into Bohemia to see if it might be the thing for her. Skewering the conventions of sentimental literature as usual, Howells keeps the reader guessing to the end as to the fate of Cornelia and her Gift.

Book cover Indian Summer (version 2)

Set in Florence's Anglo-American colony in the late 19th century, this is a romantic story of a middle-aged man, returning to the scene of his first but disappointed love twenty years earlier. The doings of Americans abroad were staples of the fictions of Henry James and Edith Wharton, but Howells’s view is rather different. As John Updike has said of it, “the felicity of the writing makes us pause in admiration….A midlife crisis has rarely been sketched in fiction with better humor, with gentler comedy and more gracious acceptance of life’s irrevocability.” ( Nicholas Clifford)

By: William Dean Howells, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Mary Heaton Vorse

The Whole Family by William Dean Howells, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Mary Heaton Vorse The Whole Family

A 1908 NaNoWriMo forerunner, told in twelve chapters, each with a different author. The basic plot was to show how an engagement or marriage would affect and be affected by an entire family. The project became somewhat curious for the way the authors' contentious interrelationships mirrored the sometimes dysfunctional family they described in their chapters. The collaboration may have been an uncomfortable one, but a final product did emerge with some clever and entertaining contributions from its often squabbling authors.

By: William Frend De Morgan (1839-1917)

Book cover Somehow Good

A mysterious man arrives in London and, in a freak accident, gets electrocuted on an underground train and loses his memory. A young lady called Sally Nightingale feels responsible, and brings him home to her mother. But in a strange twist of fate it transpires that her mother is the man's ex wife, whom he left twenty years earlier in unhappy circumstances. The old attraction is there, but what will happen if and when his memory returns? A highly melodramatic plot, but with a deft comic touch, a host of vibrant characters, and a large dash of romance...

By: William Godwin (1756-1836)

Caleb Williams or Things As They Are by William Godwin Caleb Williams or Things As They Are

The novel describes the downfall of Ferdinando Falkland, a British squire, and his attempts to ruin and destroy the life of Caleb Williams, a poor but ambitious young man that Falkland hires as his personal secretary. Caleb accidentally discovers a terrible secret in his master’s past. Though Caleb promises to be bound to silence, Falkland, irrationally attached (in Godwin’s view) to ideas of social status and inborn virtue, cannot bear that his servant should possibly have power over him, and sets out to use various means–unfair trials, imprisonment, pursuit, to make sure that the information of which Caleb is the bearer will never be revealed...

By: William H. Hudson (1841-1922)

Book cover A Crystal Age

A Crystal Age is a utopian novel written by W. H. Hudson, first published in 1887. The book has been called a "significant S-F milestone" and has been noted for its anticipation of the "modern ecological mysticism" that would evolve a century later.

Far Away and Long Ago by William H. Hudson Far Away and Long Ago

William Henry Hudson (August 1841 – 1922) was an author, naturalist and ornithologist. Hudson was born of U.S. parents living in the Quilmes Partido in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, where he spent his youth studying the local flora and fauna and observing both natural and human dramas on what was then a lawless frontier. ‘Far Away and Long Ago’ is a classic memoir of a boy, fascinated by nature, on the Pampas in the 19th century.

Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest by William H. Hudson Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest

“Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest” is a narration of his life story by Abel, a Venezuelan, to a comrade. Once a wealthy young man, he meddled in politics to the extent of provoking a revolution… which failed.Escaping into the tropical forests of Guyana Abel takes up gold hunting, then journal-writing, and fails at both. Now with no aim for his life, he drifts until he takes up residence with a remote Indian tribe. Soon he learns of a wood the Indians avoid, as it is inhabited by a dangerous Daughter of the Didi, who, they say, slew one of them with magic...

Book cover Shepherd's Life; Impressions Of The South Wiltshire Downs

Hudson wrote this classic work in 1910; it is admiringly mentioned by many other writers. It focuses on the memories of a head shepherd, Caleb Bawcombe, so it is concerned with the period of mid to late nineteenth century rural Wiltshire, a county in England. This pleasant engaging book contains rural wisdom, natural history, farming practices, human characters, and more

By: William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882)

Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth Rookwood

A rich and complex Gothic-Romance centring on the murky deeds of an ancient family. It is a wonderfully atmospheric piece that combines narrative, poetry, song, and descriptive writing to great effect. The character of Dick Turpin that we know today – the dashing highwaymen and unmatched horseman – can be said to stem directly from this novel, as the most famous part of the book (often published on its own in the past), Turpin’s Ride To York, is devoted to him. Although seemingly little known to a modern audience, Ainsworth’s ‘Rookwood’ gave the world the image of the highwayman with which we are all so familiar.

Windsor Castle, Book 1 by William Harrison Ainsworth Windsor Castle, Book 1

Book 1 - Ann Boleyn. The focus of the novels is on the events surrounding Henry VIII's replacing Catherine of Aragon with Anne Boleyn as his wife. During Henry's pursuit of Boleyn, the novel describes other couples, including the Earl of Surrey and Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a match Henry does not support. However, some of the individuals oppose Henry and his desires for Boleyn, including Thomas Wyat who wants her for himself and Cardinal Wolsey, who uses his own daughter, Mabel Lyndwood, to lure Henry away from Boleyn...

By: William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

Liber Amoris by William Hazlitt Liber Amoris

Liber Amoris is unlike anything Hazlitt wrote and probably like nothing you've come across before. On the face of it it tells the story of Hazlitt's infatuation with his landlords daughter. Hazlitt was middle aged and she young and pretty, a bit of a coquette from the sound of it. It turned out badly for Hazlitt and the book tells the story of this doomed love. Critics have always been divided about the merit of the piece. Even those who see its merit often feel more comfortable with his polished literary works, and perhaps rightly so...

By: William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson The House on the Borderland

In 1877, two gentlemen, Messrs Tonnison and Berreggnog, head into Ireland to spend a week fishing in the village of Kraighten. While there, they discover in the ruins of a very curious house a diary of the man who had once owned it. Its torn pages seem to hint at an evil beyond anything that existed on this side of the curtains of impossibility. This is a classic novel that worked to slowly bridge the gap between the British fantastic and supernatural authors of the later 19th century and modern horror fiction. Classic American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft lists this and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences.

By: William J. Burns (1861-1932)

The Crevice by William J. Burns The Crevice

The sudden death of wealthy and prominent financier, Pennington Lawton from an apparent heart attack, followed by the shocking revelation of his impending bankruptcy, leaves his sole heir and only daughter, Anita, distraught and nearly penniless. Nonetheless, she is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death and the loss of his great fortune. To this end she engages the famous detective, Henry Blaine who is determined to unravel the tangled web of deception and restore both her father’s reputation and Anita’s inheritance...

By: William J. Lampton (1851-1917)

Book cover Flag and the Faithful

LibriVox volunteers bring you 12 recordings of The Flag and the Faithful by William J. Lampton. This was the Weekly Poetry project for January 20, 2013.William J. Lampton was the second cousin of Jane Clemens (the youngest of the three daughters of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain.)He launched his jounalist carreer in 1877 by starting the Ashland (Kentucky) Weekly Review, with his father’s money. Lampton wrote several book, as well as humorous poems he called 'yawps'. These were printed in the New York Sun and published in Yawps and Other Things ca. 1900.

By: William John Locke (1863-1930)

The Red Planet by William John Locke The Red Planet

Set during WWI in England, The Red Planet is a rich tale about the life in a little English town from the point of view of Major Duncan Meredyth, a disabled veteran of the Boer Wars. As he struggles to keep his life and the lives of those he cares for in harmony, he must also shelter a dark secret regarding one of the village's favorite sons.The Red Planet was the third bestselling novel in the United States for 1917.

Book cover The Fortunate Youth

Paul is a poor boy who grew up in London, in the household of his mother and stepfather. His journey to greatness is the subject of our story. But his desired success comes at a very high price.

Book cover Beloved Vagabond

The vagabond, Paragot, a truly eccentric bohemian and a wandering scholar with a mysterious past, adopts a London street urchin (whom he calls Asticot) by purchasing him from his mother for half a crown. Paragot leads Asticot on various adventures through 19th century Europe, eventually arriving in Paris. Here Paragot’s dark romantic past begins to catch up with him.

Book cover Morals of Marcus Ordeyne

Marcus Ordeyne is a middle aged bachelor schoolmaster who has inherited both money and a title and thus is able to lead a life of leisure. One day, he encounters a young girl in a London park who has escaped from a Turkish harem and has come to London for an arranged marriage; however, her rescuer has unexpectedly died, leaving her destitute. Not knowing what else to do, Sir Marcus takes her to his home – with unexpected consequences.

By: William Joseph Long

English Literature by William Joseph Long English Literature

ENGLISH LITERATUREBY WILLIAM J. LONG, PH.D.PREFACEThis book, which presents the whole splendid history of English literature from Anglo-Saxon times to the close of the Victorian Era, has three specific aims. The first is to create or to encourage in every student the desire to read the best books, and to know literature itself rather than what has been written about literature. The second is to interpret literature both personally and historically, that is, to show how a great book generally reflects not only the author's life and thought but also the spirit of the age and the ideals of the nation's history...

By: William Le Queux (1864-1927)

Hushed Up! A Mystery of London by William Le Queux Hushed Up! A Mystery of London

A young man, Owen Biddulph, is drawn to a beautiful young woman with a mysterious past... a past that seems to have returned to cause her disappearance! Is she his new found love or his nemesis? And who is this mysterious clergyman that warns him to avoid this young woman, at risk of his very life! What possible harm could this sweet young woman inflict? Written by one of the Masters of Mystery, William Le Queux. (Introduction by Tom Weiss)

The Seven Secrets by William Le Queux The Seven Secrets

A true “whodunit” with as many twists and turns as an English country road. Old man Courtenay is found murdered in his bed. Dr. Ralph Boyd is summoned to Courtenay Manor to examine the slain man and discovers a clue that might solve the case. But, he decides to keep the clue private for personal reasons. In the meantime, Scotland Yard has no clues as the culprits or the motive. Dr. Boyd, because of his new found clue, is sure he knows who is the murderer. Or, is it a murderess? His intimate acquaintance, Ambler Jevons, is also investigating the crime but Dr...

The Stretton Street Affair by William Le Queux The Stretton Street Affair

Hugh Gabriel has recently been repatriated from the war and has rejoined his old firm as an electrical engineer. On the way to visit his uncle one night, he is asked by a servant if he would be willing to meet with his wealthy master who is in some distress. Hugh becomes witness to, and directly involved with, a dastardly murder. Or has he? Who is this mysterious millionaire Oswald De Gex he has been asked to meet with? Is Doctor Moroni an honest physician or a diabolical monster? And what about...

The Great White Queen by William Le Queux The Great White Queen

How to describe this book? In a word – savage. For those regular Le Queux mystery listeners, this book is a step in a different direction by the author. The book starts out like most Le Queux. Our hero, Richard Scarsmere, befriends an individual (Omar) at an English boarding school who turns out to be an African prince from a kingdom called Mo. Omar receives a visit from one of his mother’s trusted advisers. His mother, the Great White Queen, seeks him to return home immediately. Omar convinces Scarsmere to return to Africa with him since there is little opportunity awaiting him in London. What follows is a tale of deceit, treachery, barbarity, and mystery.

The Sign of Silence by William Le Queux The Sign of Silence

Edward Royle is the head of a well-known chemical manufacturer in England, which he has inherited. He is engaged to the daughter of his father’s former partner, Phrida Shand, who lives with her mother. One night he is asked by his friend, Sir Digby Kemsley – a very famous railroad engineer, to come to his flat to discuss something although Kemsley is quite mysterious on the telephone. Royle visits, then returns home only to be summoned again by Kemsley, this time imploring him to return at once...

By: William MacLeod Raine (1871-1954)

Book cover Yukon Trail

The Yukon Trail: A Tale of the North (filmed as The Grip of the Yukon in 1928) is an adventure yarn from the prodigious output of William MacLeod Raine, who averaged nearly two western novels a year for some 46 years. Twenty of his novels have been filmed. Though Raine was prolific, he was a slow, careful, conscientious worker, intent on accurate detail, and considered himself a craftsman rather than an artist. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Book cover Tangled Trails

The aptly titled "Tangled Trails, A Western Detective Story" takes the listener through a web of curious incidents revolving around the murder of a prominent man in Denver. Kirby Lane was quite obviously the guilty party in the murder of his uncle. Lane, among others, had had a falling out with his uncle, the victim James Cunningham. But there were some who believed his nephew to be innocent of the hideous crime. Lane feared the guilty party to be a female bronco rider whom he had befriended, as her presence at the scene of the crime was quite evident, albeit only to him...

By: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair

If you've enjoyed watching the 1998 BBC television miniseries, you'd probably want to renew your acquaintance with William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 novel, Vanity Fair. However, if you're unfamiliar with what has been dubbed one of the Best 100 Books in English Literature, you certainly have a treat ahead. Miss Pinkerton's Academy in Chiswick Mall in London is where young ladies with ambitions of making a good marriage are sent by their socially aspiring middleclass parents. Two young ladies, Amelia Sedley and Rebecca (Becky) Sharpe are on their way home after completing their term at Miss Pinkerton's...

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne by William Makepeace Thackeray The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne

A classic Victorian novel and a historical novel rolled into one! Read about court and army life during the reign of Queen Anne – a story of Catholic – Protestant intrigue, and the party which aspired to the restoration of Bonny Prince Charlie. And, a good love story as well.

The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray The Book of Snobs

The necessity of a work on Snobs, demonstrated from History, and proved by felicitous illustrations:—I am the individual destined to write that work—My vocation is announced in terms of great eloquence—I show that the world has been gradually preparing itself for the WORK and the MAN—Snobs are to be studied like other objects of Natural Science, and are a part of the Beautiful (with a large B). They pervade all classes—Affecting instance of Colonel Snobley.

Book cover Rose And The Ring

Victorian social satire hiding in a set of children's fairy tales by the author of the classic "Vanity Fair"

Book cover Virginians

It tells the story of Henry Esmond's twin grandsons, George and Henry Warrington. Henry's romantic entanglements with an older woman lead up to his taking a commission in the British army and fighting under the command of General Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. On the outbreak of the American War of Independence he takes the revolutionary side. George, who is also a British officer, thereupon resigns his commission rather than take up arms against his brother.

By: William Morris (1834 — 1896)

The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris The Wood Beyond the World

MANUAL OF SURGERY, OXFORD MEDICAL PUBLICATIONSBY ALEXIS THOMSON, F.R.C.S.Ed.PREFACE TO SIXTH EDITION Much has happened since this Manual was last revised, and many surgical lessons have been learned in the hard school of war. Some may yet have to be unlearned, and others have but little bearing on the problems presented to the civilian surgeon. Save in its broadest principles, the surgery of warfare is a thing apart from the general surgery of civil life, and the exhaustive literature now available on every aspect of it makes it unnecessary that it should receive detailed consideration in a manual for students...

News From Nowhere by William Morris News From Nowhere

News from Nowhere (1890) is a classic work combining utopian socialism and soft science fiction written by the artist, designer and socialist pioneer William Morris. In the book, the narrator, William Guest, falls asleep after returning from a meeting of the Socialist League and awakes to find himself in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems...

Book cover The Well at the World's End, Book 1: The Road unto Love

The Well at World's End is thought to be one of the first examples of an entirely fictional fantasy world, and has greatly influenced later fantasy writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The book follows the travels of Ralph, a prince of a tiny country, as he disobeys his fathers wishes and runs away from home to adventure in the world, and seek out the fabled Well at World's End, said to grant eternal youth to those who drink from it.

The House of the Wolfings by William Morris The House of the Wolfings

William Morris (1834-1896) was a writer, illustrator and medievalist from the Romantic period and associated with other renowned authors of the time such as Dante Rossetti. His fascination with ancient Germanic and Norse people dominated his writings, the first to be set in an entirely invented fantasy world and which helped to establish the fantasy genre. The House of Wolfings (1890), some argue, is a demonstration of Morris' socialism as the society described, though not an utopia, is clan-based, elects leaders and makes decisions in clan tribal meetings...

By: William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare’s most well-known play is more than most people realize. While it is the story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, it is also the story of two families in the middle of a bitter feud. Many people avoid the story because they believe it will be too difficult to read, but this is not true at all. Within a few paragraphs, the play captures your imagination and attention. Juliet is 13 years old and is love with the son of her father’s enemy. Her father has promised that she will marry another boy when it is time, but she refuses to accept the suit...

King Lear by William Shakespeare King Lear

Considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, the tragedy King Lear portrays some of the darkest aspects of human nature that can be found in literature. The helplessness of the human condition, as we fall prey to our destinies, the injustice and random cruelties practiced by people, suffering and humiliation, the lust for power and the greed for wealth are all depicted in this magnificent play. And through it all, runs the golden thread of love and sacrifice, daughterly affection and the true nature of our relationship with our parents...

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream

Summer nights, romance, music, comedy, pairs of lovers who have yet to confess their feelings to each other, comedy and more than a touch of magic are all woven into one of Shakespeare's most delightful and ethereal creations – A Midsummer Night's Dream. The plot is as light and enchanting as the settings themselves. The Duke of Athens is busy with preparations for his forthcoming wedding to Hippolyta the Amazonian Queen. In the midst of this, Egeus, an Athenian aristocrat marches in, flanked by his lovely daughter Hermia and her two suitors, Lysander and Demetrius...

The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Macbeth

Right from its famous opening scene which begins, “Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches” The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare holds the reader fast in a stirring, monumental experience that plumbs the depths of the human soul and reveals its most morbid secrets. The play is set in medieval Scotland. It is based partly on historical facts and recounts the tale of Macbeth, who was a king in Scotland, according to The Holinshead Chronicles, a book published in 1577. This book was extensively used by contemporary playwrights like Shakespeare and Marlowe as inspiration for their themes, characters and events...

As You Like It by William Shakespeare As You Like It

In a tiny French dukedom, a younger brother usurps his elder brother's throne. Duke Senior is banished to the Forest of Arden along with his faithful retainers, leaving his lovely daughter Rosalind behind to serve as a companion for the usurper's daughter, Celia. However, the outspoken Rosalind soon earns her uncle's wrath and is also condemned to exile. The two cousins decide to flee together and join Duke Senior in the forest. Meanwhile, a young nobleman, Orlando is thrown out of his home by his cruel older brother Oliver...

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare Julius Caesar

Though it's titled The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, the man himself appears only in five scenes in the entire play! However, such is his impact on the events that surrounded him that he still remains the central figure in this psychological drama that combines politics, honor, assassination, betrayal, the lust for power, patriotism and friendship. Set in 44 BC in ancient Rome, it is one of William Shakespeare's early Tragedies. First thought to have been performed in September 1599, William Shakespeare's original text or script have long vanished...

Othello by William Shakespeare Othello

In seventeenth century Venice, a wealthy and debauched man discovers that the woman he is infatuated with is secretly married to a Moorish general in the Venetian army. He shares his grief and rage with a lowly ensign in the army who also has reason to hate the general for promoting a younger man above him. The villainous ensign now plots to destroy the noble general in a diabolical scheme of jealousy, paranoia and murder, set against the backdrop of the bloody Turkish-Venetian wars. This timeless tale, Othello The Moor of Venice was one of the ten famous tragedies that William Shakespeare wrote...

The Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Hamlet

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness – from overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.

King Henry IV by William Shakespeare King Henry IV

King Henry IV, Part 1 is the second of Shakespeare’s eight Wars of the Roses history plays, with events following those of King Richard II. As the play opens, King Henry IV (formerly Henry Bolingbroke) and Henry Percy (Hotspur) argue over the disposition of prisoners from the Battle of Holmedon. The King’s attitude toward Mortimer and the Percy family prompts them to plot rebellion. In the meantime, his son Prince Hal is living the low life in the company of Sir John Falstaff. As the time of battle nears, Prince Hal joins his father and is given a high command...

Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare Shakespeare's Sonnets

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or simply The Sonnets, comprise a collection of 154 poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare that deal with such themes as love, beauty, politics, and mortality. The poems were probably written over a period of several years.

The Passionate Pilgrim by William Shakespeare The Passionate Pilgrim

The Passionate Pilgrim was published by William Jaggard, later the publisher of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The first edition survives only in a single fragmentary copy; its date cannot be fixed with certainty since its title page is missing, though many scholars judge it likely to be from 1599, the year the second edition appeared with the attribution to Shakespeare. This version of The Passionate Pilgrim, contains 15 romantic sonnets and short poems. The works contained, while disputed as to authorship are in this writer’s most humble opinion, among the best of the age.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was probably written between 1596 and 1598, and was printed with the comedies in the First Folio of 1623. Bassanio, an impoverished gentleman, uses the credit of his friend, the merchant Antonio, to borrow money from a wealthy Jew, Shylock. Antonio pledges to pay Shylock a pound of flesh if he defaults on the loan, which Bassanio will use to woo a rich heiress, Portia. A subplot concerns the elopement of Shylock's daughter Jessica with a Christian, Bassanio's friend Lorenzo...

The Tempest by William Shakespeare The Tempest

Banished from his own lands by a usurping brother, Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been living on a deserted island for years, until fate brings the brother within the range of Prospero's powers. Will he seek revenge, or reconcilement?

King Richard II by William Shakespeare King Richard II

The Tragedy of King Richard II, by William Shakespeare, is the first of the history series that continues with Parts 1 and 2 of King Henry IV and with The Life of King Henry V. At the beginning of the play, Richard II banishes his cousin Henry Bolingbroke from England. Bolingbroke later returns with an army and the support of some of the nobility, and he deposes Richard. Richard is separated from his beloved Queen, imprisoned, and later murdered. By the end of the play, Bolingbroke has been crowned King Henry IV...

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing

Written around the middle of his career, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great festive comedies. The men are back from the war, and everyone is ready for romance. The dashing young Claudio falls for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, governor of Messina, and his friend Don Pedro helps him secure her affection. These youthful lovers are contrasted with the more experienced (and more cynical) Benedick and Beatrice, who have to be tricked into falling in love. Don Pedro's bastard brother, Don John, provides the intrigue, and the dimwitted constable Dogberry provides the laughs.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, and was inspired by classical Roman comedy and the Italian commedia dell'arte. Baptista Minola, a rich gentleman of Padua, has two daughters: Katherina, renowned for her sharp tongue, and Bianca, who is sought after by multiple suitors. Baptista decides that Bianca cannot marry until her elder sister finds a husband. Enter Petruchio, who has come to "wive it wealthily in Padua," and who is convinced by Bianca's suitors to woo Katherina. The play ultimately poses the question of who is the bigger shrew: Kate or Petruchio. The subplot involves the subterfuge employed by Lucentio to woo the lovely Bianca.

Richard III by William Shakespeare Richard III

Richard III is an early history play probably written and performed around 1592-93. It is the culmination of Shakespeare's earlier three plays about Henry VI, and chronicles the bloody career of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. As the play opens, the Wars of the Roses are over, King Edward IV (Richard's brother) is on the throne, and all is ostensibly well. The problem? Richard wants to be king - and he'll stop at nothing to realize his ambition.

All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare All's Well That Ends Well

Despite its optimistic title, Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well has often been considered a "problem play." Ostensibly a comedy, the play also has fairy tale elements, as it focuses on Helena, a virtuous orphan, who loves Bertram, the haughty son of her protectress, the Countess of Rousillon. When Bertram, desperate for adventure, leaves Rousillon to serve in the King's army, Helena pursues him.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Twelfth Night

Shakespeare's great festive comedy, probably written and first performed around 1601, follows the adventures of twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated from each other by a shipwreck. Viola, believing her brother dead, disguises herself as a page in order to serve the lovesick Duke Orsino, who has been rejected by the Countess Olivia. The ensemble cast includes a roster of wonderfully comic characters: Olivia's drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch, his foolish friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the witty serving woman Maria, the social-climbing steward Malvolio, and the clever, riddling clown Feste.

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays, believed to have been written between 1592 and 1594. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus...


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