Fifty Words for Snow

Nine Lives frontispiece

that I’ve been involved with

It’s all well and good to talk about curling up with a good book. What if the library is closed, and you can’t reach the bookshelf because the cat is sitting on your lap?

Do not despair. You can do all the reading you want right now in your browser, or on your phone, or on the internet-connected device of your choice. The question is, what will you get? It might be a page image:

partial page image

or it might be raw OCR:

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fcavS 2)?c|'fcr.
machaijarpiuiga mir tft baöGVf($irr ^^cr^roc^cir^ (mirfctbftl.
iiiachaijartauvini.aa mir tft t>a0 C^V^[d;trr ^crbrod^cii (i^eii

Those have their uses—at least when nothing else is available. But what you really want is fully proofread, searchable text. That’s what you get here.

Unlike many ebook collections, there is no unifying theme here: books about a particular subject; novels on somebody’s Most Influential list; key reference works; the holdings of a specialized library. The only criterion is that the book caught my interest—and, usually, that there isn’t already a nice version online somewhere else. Unless other­wise noted, each book’s text is based on some specific, identified edition. But if another edition had more or prettier pictures, I’ve added those too.


Titles marked G were originally made (by me) for Project Gutenberg. The version you see here differs in some way—maybe with Added Value in linking and display options, or a wider range of responsive formats. Titles marked dp are the same, except that they came up through Distributed Proof­readers and should therefore be 100% guaranteed error-free. For the ’satiably curtious, here is a complete listing of the 300-odd Project Gutenberg books with my name on them, spanning the period 2004–2014.

For the heavily illustrated books I’ve included the size of the “images” directory so you know what you’re getting into. Unless otherwise noted, titles in each category are listed in alpha­betical order, with the most recent title at the top.

The original texts are all out of copyright in the United States. If you live in a different country, it is up to you to check your own laws. Usually it’s the lifespan of the author plus some number of years—which can be tricky when a book is anonymous and undated.

distant light across a lake

A Very Good Year

Two of my favorite genres are 19th-century humor and 19th-century travel books. Sometimes it’s impossible to separate the two—especially when they all seem to have been written in 1888.

How to Fail in Literature

A useful and informative lecture by Andrew Lang (aka Fairy Book Guy), with everything you need to become a complete literary failure.

About Ceylon and Borneo

From 1891 comes Walter Clutterbuck’s final round of bachelor travels. 4.5MB images

B.C. 1887: A Ramble in British Columbia

From the authors of the incomparable Three in Norway—but this time around, there are photo­graphs. More shootin’, more fishin’ . . . and way more parodies and name-dropping. I looked everything up, so you won’t have to. 3MB images

The Diary of a Nobody

Where were you in 1888? George and Weedon Grossmith were pegging away at their own classic, originally serialized in Punch. A few years later it was expanded into a book with new illustrations by Weedon. 1.3MB images

English as She is Spoke

Before there was machine translation there was English as She is Spoke, or, what happens when you use an outdated dictionary to translate a language you don’t know . . . into another language you don’t know. 200k images

Happy Thoughts
More Happy Thoughts
Our Yacht

F. C. Burnand’s Happy Thoughts—originally published in Punch in the late 1860’s—are not technically autobio­graphy. But, like E. M. Delafield’s “Provincial Lady” books a few genera­tions later, they are so full of topical references that you may as well treat them as real life.

The Incompleat Angler

In that year of years 1887, F. C. Burnand returns with a close parody of The Compleat Angler, illustrated by Harry Furniss. It doesn’t get much sillier than this. 1.4MB images

Industrial Explorings

. . . in and Around London, by “R. Andom”. An 1895 travelogue of a dozen very different factories in the London area, copiously illustrated by T. M. R. Whitwell. 2.4MB images

John Bull and His Island

England as seen through the eyes of a Frenchman—translated into English for John Bull’s benefit.

Modern Men

By “A Modern Maid”, otherwise known as Charlotte O’Conor Eccles, author of The Rejuvenation of Miss Semaphore and The Matrimonial Lottery.

Peaks and Pines

In 1898 James Lees makes a repeat visit to Norway, again armed with rod and gun. This time he has a variety of companions, ranging from Walter Clutterbuck to his 14-year-old son. 2.8MB images

The Skipper in Arctic Seas

Walter Clutterbuck—by himself—hits the northern seas to shoot seals, birds and anything else he can hit. 1.6MB images

Wild Norway

On the recommendation of James Lees, who refers to the book as “delightful”, let’s have a look at what avid hunter and naturalist Abel Chapman found in Norway. Published in 1897, the book spans a decade and a half of hunting-and-fishing expeditions to various parts of the country. 4.8MB images

courtyard of old English inn

On the Road Again

As we go along, there will be slightly more description, slightly less humor. And sometimes a travelogue masquerades as a novel. Books by the same author are grouped together and shown in chronological order; the rest are in alphabetical order.

Picturesque Views on the River Wye

The last of Samuel Ireland’s four “Picturesque Views” on English rivers, originally published in 1797. 1.5MB images

The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain

North Carolina travelogue meets cheesy romance. Nobody emerges victorious—though the book does include some pretty nice photographs. 2.6MB images

Bits of Travel
Bits of Travel at Home

Meet Helen Hunt not-yet-Jackson, travel writer:

“I thought it very beautiful, and was quite surprised to find it one of the things set down in [the guidebook] as proper to be admired.”

In 1868–1869 the author toured Europe—which is to say Rome, Venice, the south of France and assorted spas—with a rotation of women friends, leading to Bits of Travel. A few years later she was off again, this time visiting California, Colorado and New England; this gave us Bits of Travel at Home. 1MB images
divided among several books

Coaching Days and Coaching Ways

In 1887 and 1888, W. Outram Tristram explores England’s old coaching routes and inns, disused in this modern age of railways. Enthusiastically illustrated by Herbert Railton and Hugh Thomson. 4.4MB images

Journal of a Residence in India

by Maria Graham, later Lady Callcott. One of the first India books written by an ordinary civilian, for ordinary civilians: Bombay, Ceylon, Madras and Calcutta over the years 1809–1811. 3.9MB images

. . . a Voyage to Brazil

by Maria Graham, later Lady Callcott. Ten years after India, she accompanied her husband to South America, resulting in two additional books. This one covers her first two visits to Brazil, bracketing her year in Chile. 1.9MB images

. . . a Residence in Chile

by Maria Graham, later Lady Callcott. Between her two visits to Brazil came a year in Chile, including the 1822 Valparaiso earthquake. 2.2MB images

Lady Bluebeard

by Times of India editor Henry Curwen. He may try to pass it off as a novel, but it’s really a travelogue of West and South Asia.

Letters from Sweden

Or, in full: Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark by Mary Wollstonecraft. The book was written in 1795, and edited after the author’s death by her husband William Godwin.

Midnight Sunbeams: Bits of Travel through the Land of the Norsemen

A random American does Norway . . . in guess what year.

There’s a wee bit of Denmark and Sweden as well. But the title is enough to make everyone’s priorities clear.

Picturesque Views on the River Thames

Samuel Ireland’s first of four “Picturesque Views” on English rivers, originally published in 1792. 5.8MB images
divided between 2 volumes

. . . the River Medway

In 1793, Samuel Ireland brings out the sketchbook again, this time following the Medway southward through Kent. 2.6MB images

. . . the Upper, or Warwickshire Avon

Samuel Ireland’s third English river is “the” Avon. This time he was accompanied on the tour by son William-Henry . . . and thereby hangs a tale. 3.8MB images

Rambles beyond Railways

Long before The Moonstone or The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins walked around Cornwall with artist Henry Charles Brandling. 600k images

Sights and Sensations in France, Germany, and Switzerland

or, Experiences of an American journalist in Europe. The title pretty well says it all. Written at various times in the 1860s by Edward Gould Buffum; edited after his death by his brother William, and published in 1869.

The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon

Washington Irving’s first collection: essays and short stories, history and travel. First published in 1819–1820, it is here seen in the generously illustrated 1894 Van Tassel edition. 2.4MB images
divided among 3 files

A Tour through Sicily and Malta

by Patrick Brydone. Based on letters written in 1770 and published a few years later, the book shows a range of interests veering from cultural to scientific.

Travels in England

Richard Le Gallienne sees England on a bicycle. Occasional illustrations by Herbert Railton. 200k images

A View of England

England through the eyes of a resident foreigner: Gebhard Wendeborn’s 1791 translation of his German from a few years earlier. No pictures, alas.

man falling backward off chair

Jerome K. Jerome

Generally, wherever he hides a dog biscuit somebody finds it. We find it under our pillows—inside our boots; no place seems safe. This time he had said to himself—“By Jove! a whole row of the Guv’nor’s books. Nobody will ever want to take these out; I’ll hide it here.” One feels a thing like that from one’s own dog.

When you look around and discover you’ve got half a dozen different books by the same author, it’s time to give him a category of his own. For general background on the author, see the introduction to Three Men in a Boat and, to a lesser extent, They and I.

In chronological order:

On the Stage—and Off

Jerome’s 1885 account of his brief career as an actor, republished in 1891 with lots and lots of illustrations. 2.7MB images

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

One of Jerome’s earliest books as a humorist: a collection of essays on this and that, originally published in 1884–86. no pictures, darn it


A careful look at the unique and special version of reality that you find in stage melodramas. 1.7MB images

Three Men in a Boat

The comic classic began life in Home Chimes in 1888–89. Here is its 1889 illustrated book version. 1.3MB images

Told After Supper

JKJ’s venture into ghost stories. 2.9MB images

Diary of a Pilgrimage

In 1890, JKJ allowed a friend to drag him along to the Oberammergau Passion Play. His account of the trip feels much like the “Three Men” books. 4.7MB images

Sketches in Lavender, Blue and Green

Assorted stories, some serious and some not, from JKJ’s stint as a magazine editor in the mid-1890s. 1.8MB images

The Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

The 1898 sequel to Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.

Three Men on the Bummel

The 1900 sequel to Three Men in a Boat. 300k images

Tea-Table Talk

A light collection of conversation, featuring five character types . . . and “I”. 1.2MB images

Tommy & Co.

Jerome discovers the fun of creating strong female characters. With illustrations from both serial versions, English and American. 2.3MB images

They and I

From 1909 comes the best Jerome K. Jerome book you’ve never heard of.

hunter aiming at a bear

Huntin’, Shootin’ and Fishin’

Everything listed here will also show up elsewhere on the page. But there seems to be a recurring theme. In chronological order:

The Compleat Angler

By Izaak Walton (1653 and later) and Charles Cotton (1676). The 1909 Cassell edition includes footnotes and supplementary material from two well-known editions, Hawkins (1760 and later) and “Ephemera” (1853 and later). 2.4MB images

The Chase

Book-length poem by William Somervile, with illustrations by the Bewick brothers, John and Thomas. 650k images


Humphry Davy’s personal tribute to The Compleat Angler, with illustrations from two editions. 1.2MB images

The Chase, the Turf and the Road

Three independent essays by “Nimrod” (Charles Apperley), first written in 1832–33 and later collected into book form. 1.4MB images

B.C. 1887: A Ramble in British Columbia

From the authors of the incomparable Three in Norway—but this time around, there are photo­graphs. More shootin’, more fishin’ . . . and way more parodies and name-dropping. I looked everything up, so you won’t have to. 3MB images

The Skipper in Arctic Seas

Walter Clutterbuck—by himself—hits the northern seas to shoot seals, birds and anything else he can hit. 1.6MB images

Wild Norway

On the recommendation of James Lees, who refers to the book as “delightful”, let’s have a look at what avid hunter and naturalist Abel Chapman found in Norway. Published in 1897, the book spans a decade and a half of hunting-and-fishing expeditions to various parts of the country. 4.8MB images

Peaks and Pines

In 1898 James Lees makes a repeat visit to Norway, again armed with rod and gun. This time he has a variety of companions, ranging from Walter Clutterbuck to his 14-year-old son. 2.8MB images

Bunting from Bewick’s Birds

In Every Matter Vegetable, Animal and Mineral

Look up any scientific subject in a library catalog, and you will find the sub-category “Early Works—to 1800”. In printed books the dividing line is easy to see: does it use long ſ or round s? But in content there’s no such clean break. Instead there’s more of a conti­nuum, from the mid-18th century to the 1820s.

Animal Biography

by William Bingley, the 1804 second edition. Popular zoology as it existed at the beginning of the 19th century—which is far, far different than what you might have seen a century earlier. With illustrations culled from Bingley’s various named sources, including Shaw and Bewick. 19.2MB images
divided among 15 files

Arctic Zoology

Thomas Pennant’s 1784–85 work, featuring birds and mammals from such noted polar regions as California and Cuba. It all makes sense in the end. 3.7MB images
divided among 4 files

Bewick’s Birds

or, if you want to be formal, British Birds by Thomas Bewick, illustrated with detailed woodcuts. 14.3MB images
divided between 2 volumes

Conversations on Chemistry

Jane Marcet’s first venture into popular science, here in the 1817 fifth edition. 1.6MB images
divided between 2 volumes

The Leverian Museum

by George Shaw, a large-format companion to his Naturalist’s Miscellany. This one came out in six Numbers, each with twelve hand-tinted plates. In spite of the title, it is strictly concerned with animals, especially birds. about 1.8MB images
per number

The Natural History of Selborne

by Gilbert White. One of the earliest works of descriptive, observational natural history, with illustrations from two 19th-century editions. 4.4MB images

The Naturalist’s Miscellany

by George Shaw, in 24 splendidly illustrated volumes spanning the years 1789 to 1813. Come for the biology, stay for the typography. 3-4MB images
per volume

A Review of the Works of the Royal Society of London

John Hill’s 1751 attack on various articles that should never have been published in the Philosophical Transactions.


Humphry Davy’s personal tribute to The Compleat Angler, with illustrations from two editions. 1.2MB images

cloudy English sky

A Day in the Life

The Handbook to English Heraldry

By Charles Boutell, revised and updated by Stephen T. Aveling and Arthur Charles Fox-Davies: the 1914 eleventh edition. 3.8MB images
divided among 4 files

The Amenities of Book-Collecting

. . . and Kindred Affections, by A. Edward Newton. From the longago days when, as the author tells us, “a faultless first folio could have been had for the trifling sum of twenty-five thousand dollars”. 4.1MB images

Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture

by Edward P. Evans, who was best known for The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals. This one has probably got more pictures, though. 940k images

The Chase, the Turf and the Road

Three independent essays by “Nimrod” (Charles Apperley), first written in 1832–33 and later collected into book form. 1.4MB images

A Dictionary of the Art of Printing

Everything a printer in 1841 needed to know—and a whole lot more. Along with the how-tos and technical terminology, we get: all laws that affected printers in any way; infor­mation on the non-Roman scripts available to English printers, along with arrangement of their respective cases; rules of punctuation and orthography; aids to decoding your hand-written original, such as the abbreviations of standard reference works; imposition charts for everything from folios to 128-page sheets . . . and that’s just the beginning.

In spite of the dp label, this etext is significantly different from the version you’ll find at Project Gutenberg. 2.9MB images
divided among 15 files

Frederick Hale

Possibly the world’s shortest biography, honoring one of the nation’s most forgettable senators.

A Magnificent Farce

. . . and Other Diversions of a Book-Collector, by A. Edward Newton, who previously gave us The Amenities of Book-Collecting. 4.3MB images

Modern Men

By “A Modern Maid”, otherwise known as Charlotte O’Conor Eccles.

Moxon’s Handy-Works (Volume Two)

or, in full: Mechanick Exercises: Or, the Doctrine of Handy-works by Joseph Moxon. Volume Two, subtitled Applied to the Art of Printing, came out in 1683, making it the earliest comprehensive work on the subject. about 2MB images
divided among 6 files

My Mother’s War

My mother was born Brunhilde Maria Urban in 1935 in what was then East Prussia. She wrote this autobio­graphical chapter in 2012, a few years before her death.

Our House and London out of Our Windows

Elizabeth Robins Pennell’s life on Buckingham Street, The Strand, illustrated by her husband Joseph Pennell. 1.1MB images

Queer Books

An entertaining assortment of essays by Edmund Pearson, originally published in various magazines in the mid-1920s and collected in book form in 1928. You will recognize several titles that appear on this site. 4MB images

Recollections of Napoleon

by Mrs. Abell (Betsy Balcombe). As a young girl, she lived on St. Helena during the first three years of Napoleon’s exile. Decades later she published a memoir of the period, with illustrations aided by “my daughter’s pencil”. 1MB images

Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character

A mid-19th-century best-seller from Edward Ramsay, Dean of Edinburgh. Text from the third edition, pictures from the later big-budget Foulis edition. 1.5MB images

A Select Glossary of English Words
Used Formerly in Senses Different from their Present

by Richard Chenevix Trench, who once came close to being the Oxford English Dictionary’s first editor.

The Tears of the Heliades

William Arnold Buffum’s short book sums up everything known about amber in the year 1900: literary, decorative, scientific.

The Theory of the Leisure Class

The 1915 edition of Thorstein Veblen’s 1899 classic.

array of sauceboats and stoppered bottles

Homeward Bound

Occupations for Women

Eighty-one chapters, 500-odd pages of every possible career opportunity for women in 1897, from frying potato chips to pleading before the Supreme Court. By Frances E. Willard, assisted by Sallie Joy White and Helen Winslow. 6.1MB images
divided among 4 files

Beeton’s Book of Household Management

Otherwise known simply as “Mrs. Beeton”. The 1861 edition, with all illustrations—including more close-ups of Roasted Hares and Stewed Tongues than most people will ever want to see. Along with the text, I delved into the book’s donors (as with Alida, “Sources” doesn’t quite fit the bill). 9MB images
divided among 10 files

Bits of Talk about Home Matters

A collection of short essays by Helen Hunt not-yet-Jackson about, as she says, “home matters”: family life, child-rearing, education, religion and so on.

Castles & Old Mansions of Shropshire

Long before there was such a thing as a coffee table, there were coffee-table books. This is a typical specimen. 4.7MB images

Concerning Cats

. . . My Own and Some Others, a 1900-vintage cat book by Helen M. Winslow.

Still it is better, under certain circumstances, to be a cat than to be a duchess.

Illustrated with photographs of beautiful cats along with a few of their “owners”. 2.8MB images

Directions to Servants

From the author of A Modest Proposal and Gulliver’s Travels: everything a good servant needs to know.

Manners and Tone of Good Society

An anonymous “Member of the Aristocracy” lays out the rules that a nouveau riche social upstart needs to know in order to “pass”.

Manners for Girls

From 1901 comes a collection of essays with some surprisingly useful observations, generally but not always directed at young women.

Modern Cookery

Or, in full: Modern Cookery, in all its Branches, Reduced to a System of Easy Practice, for the Use of Private Families, first edition. Eliza Acton’s 1845 cookbook was a major donor to Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

Modern Cottage Architecture

How to build a small house in 1904 England. 4.6MB images

Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

Florence Nightingale’s seminal book, in its 1860 enlarged edition. If you thought Nightingale Nurses were all about self-effacement and unquestioning obedience to the doctor, this is an eye-opener.

The Physiology of Taste

Brillat-Savarin’s 1825 classic in the 1854 translation, filled out with illustrations from the 1848 Paris edition. Admittedly the Fayette Robinson translation can only be described as uneven—but it’s a book that belongs on every shelf. Or in every computer. 2.9MB images

illustration of “A Book of Verses Underneath the Bough” from Altemus edition of Rubaiyat

A Book of Verses

Strange but true: I don’t read poetry. This is not about principles or ideology; it simply won’t go down. But I do like working on poetry books—the more generously illustrated, the better.

Bingen on the Rhine

Caroline Sheridan Norton’s wildly popular 1847 parlor ballad, here in a lavishly illustrated edition from 1883. 2.5MB images

The Chase

Or, if you prefer, The Chace. Book-length poem by William Somerville—or, if you prefer, Somervile—with illustrations by the Bewick brothers, John and Thomas. 650k images

The Deserted Village

Words by Oliver Goldsmith, pictures by Hammatt Billings. 2.9MB images


Tennyson’s short narrative poem, in a prettily illustrated edition. 1.3MB images

Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog

Oliver Goldsmith again—this time with illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. 1.1MB images

Gray’s Elegy

Text and illustrations from the 1834 John Martin edition, with added illustrations from two later editions.

Updated with additional illustrations by R. W. A. Rouse. 4.3MB images

The Hermit

Oliver Goldsmith’s short narrative poem, originally contained within The Vicar of Wakefield—which should tell you how seriously to take it. 2.6MB images

The Ingoldsby Legends

by Richard Barham, writing as Thomas Ingoldsby. The original drawings by Leech, Cruikshank and Tenniel are joined by a whole new set of illustrations by Arthur Rackham, including some in color.

If you want to split hairs, there is the occasional prose story mixed in with the narrative verse. 8.9MB images
divided among 4 files

Lalla Rookh

Thomas Moore’s orientalist masterpiece, illustrated by John Tenniel just a few years before his best-known work. 9MB images
divided among 4 files

The Minstrel

James Beattie’s narrative poem from 1775, with illustrations from three later editions. 2.8MB images

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Coleridge’s classic—with explanatory sidenotes—with illustrations from three editions. 4.1MB images

The Rubaiyat

Text of the first edition, combined with full-color illustrations from six later editions. 7.3MB images

The Seasons

Thomson’s Seasons, primarily from the lavishly illustrated 1842 Bolton Corney edition, with added illustrations from assorted early editions that caught my fancy. 8.3MB images
divided among 8 files

The Shepherd’s Week

The 1714 “Burlesque Pastoral” by John Gay, who would later give us The Beggar’s Opera.

The Tours of Doctor Syntax

Words by William Combe, pictures by Thomas Rowlandson. It is “Tours”, plural, because there were three of them: The Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1812), The Second Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of Consolation (1820), and finally The Third Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of a Wife (1821). 8.2MB images


three mice at work in the Gnaw Mills

Picture This

Sometimes the pictures are as important as the words. It might be a gorgeously illustrated edition like Savoy Operas, or an ebook with pictures added from other editions like Undine . . . or simply a children’s book, which qualifies by default.

For still more pictures, see A Book of Verses, above. If a book fits into both categories, I’ve put it with the poetry.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Before Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island, there was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Maine. 2.1MB images

Anne of Green Gables

The Canadian classic, begetter of countless sequels and film versions. Here in the original edition, illustrated by M. A. and W. A. J. Claus. 640k images


From 1928 comes the first English translation, by none other than Whittaker Chambers. Foreword by John Galsworthy, illustrations by Kurt Wiese. 1.7MB images

Beautiful Joe

Canada’s answer to Black Beauty, with a dog in the title role. 1.4MB images

Black Beauty

Text based on the 19th edition, which is essentially the same as the first; illustrations added from half-a-dozen other editions from both sides of the Atlantic. 5.7MB images
divided among Parts I-IV

Eight Cousins

My personal favorite among Louisa May Alcott’s ever-popular “moral pap for the young”. 1.6MB images

Fairy Tales from the Far North

The companion volume to Round the Yule Log: Asbjørnsen & Moe’s collected tales, translated by H. L. Brækstad, with the original Norwegian illustrations. 4.1MB images

Little Women

Text of first edition—both parts—supplemented with illustrations from two later editions. 9.3MB images
divided between two books

Millions of Cats

Wanda Gág’s first picture book, published in 1928 and never out of print since. 1.9MB images

The Mouse’s Wedding

Part of Kobunsha’s Japanese Fairy Tale Series, printed 1892 on beautiful textured paper. No plot worth mentioning, but the pictures are gorgeous. 1.9MB images

Perez the Mouse

In Spanish-speaking countries, Perez the Mouse does the job of the tooth fairy. It’s all thanks to this book, written in 1894 at the request of the real-life mother of the main human character, “King Bubi I”, otherwise known as Alfonso XIII of Spain. English translation by Lady Moreton, who may have taken liberties; illus­trations by G. Howard Vyse.

The Spanish original, Ratón Pérez, with drawings by Mariano Pedrero, is available from Project Gutenberg as ebook 36558.

If you love the Howard Vyse paintings but prefer to read the original Spanish, the hybrid version is just for you. 1.1MB images

The Rambles of a Rat

by A.L.O.E. (“A Lady of England”, née Charlotte Maria Tucker). Lessons in human morality, taught by a personable rat and his ratty companions.

The Rose and the Ring

Thackeray’s “Fireside Pantomime for Great and Small Children” featuring his own inimitable illustrations. 2.5MB images

Round the Yule Log: Christmas Fireside Stories

The first English translation of Asbjørnsen & Moe’s collected Norwegian fairy tales, with the original illustrations. 5.9MB images

Savoy Operas and more

Eight Gilbert & Sullivan operas with gorgeous illustrations by Russell Flint, originally published in two volumes:
Savoy Operas: The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Princess Ida, The Yeomen of the Guard
Iolanthe and Other Operas: Iolanthe, The Mikado, Ruddigore, The Gondoliers

To continue the theme, we’ve also got Gilbert’s novelizations The Pinafore Picture Book and The Story of the Mikado, each illustrated by Alice B. Woodward.

And, finally, I threw in the original Bab Ballads and More Bab Ballads collections, with illustrations by . . . drumroll . . . William Schwenck Gilbert. at least 1MB images
per title

Three Blind Mice

Text by John Ivimey, illustrations by Walton Corbould. Around 1909. Your public library may have newer editions of the Ivimey text with a different illustrator; this is the original. The book includes music, in case you have forgotten the melody of Three Blind Mice. Oh, and it has a happy ending. 1.2MB images


La Motte Fouqué’s romantic fantasy from 1811, translated by W. L. Courtney and illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Julius Höppner and others. 6.2MB images

The Wind in the Willows

The 1922 Scribner edition with illustrations by Nancy Barnhart. 1.2MB images

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum: the 1900 first edition with illustrations by W. W. Denslow. 11MB images

signature of Norfolk

Be This Delyverid In Hast

Just to show that I don’t spend all my time working on prettily illustrated fluff:

An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex

From 1696 comes, as advertised, a defence of women, heavily interlarded with satires on various types of men.

Ælfric’s Grammar and Glossary

Or, if you prefer, Ælfrics Grammatik und Glossar. Zupitza’s 1880 edition—as far as I know, still the only critical edition available. Definitely the only one with critical apparatus in cryptic, heavily abbreviated German.

Does it make your skin crawl when people pronounce “ask” as “ax”? If so, stay far away from Aelfric, because it will shatter all your illusions. Even before embarking on this book, I knew that “ax” was so common in slightly-later English that Early English Text Society publi­cations didn’t even bother to footnote it. But when you find it in material with a three-digit date, you may as well give up.

This is the book that led me to sever my ties with Project Gutenberg. And that’s all you need to know about that.

The Book of Quinte Essence

Or, what happens when alchemists drop their futile lead-into-gold pursuits and turn their attention to distilling hard liquor. Edited by the one, the only Frederick Furnivall, who neatly sums up the book in one headnote:


Chapman’s Iliad

Based on Hooper’s 1888 edition. The spelling and punctuation are Hooper, but the language and poetry are Chapman. This is the text that inspired Keats’s lines

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken

If you haven’t read the Iliad in a while, it may also be time for a reminder that Game of Thrones didn’t invent gore:

it cut the sundry bones

Beneath his brain, betwixt his neck, and foreparts; and so runs,

Shaking his teeth out, through his mouth, his eyes all drown’d in blood,


On his knees the poor prince crying fell,

And gather’d with his tender hands his entrails, that did swell

Quite through the wide wound

The Compleat Angler

By Izaak Walton (1653 and later) and Charles Cotton (1676). The 1909 Cassell edition includes footnotes and supplementary material from two well-known editions, Hawkins (1760 and later) and “Ephemera” (1853 and later). 2.4MB images

King Horn
Floris and Blauncheflur
The Assumption of Our Lady

A three-in-one omnibus text made from the 1901 Early English Text Society edition, which in turn was a re-edit of their earlier 1866 edition.

I’ve included it here because each of the three texts shows three MSS. in parallel. An obvious next step is to let you hide and show the separate MSS. and their respective notes.

Love for Love

William Congreve’s stage hit from 1695, featuring two verse Prologues and an Epilogue.

The Paston Letters

E-text based on the six-volume 1904 Gairdner edition, including a fully interlinked Index.

The Rudiments of Grammar for the English Saxon Tongue

In 1715, Elizabeth Elstob gave us the first Anglo-Saxon grammar in English, introduced with a heartfelt “Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities”.

drawing of caribou with large horns

Northern Lights

The Book of Wisdom for Eskimo

The one, the only, the incomparable and inimitable 1947 masterpiece. English text only, except headings and illustration captions. 400k images

Grammatica Grönlandica Danico-Latina

Before Kleinschmidt, there was Poul Egede. Second-generation missionary, spent much of his youth in Greenland—is this starting to sound familiar? Unlike certain later writers one could name, he understood that the language of Greenland is not, and does not want to be, Latin. Not bad for 1760.

Do not be alarmed by the title. I’ve thrown in an English translation as well. (Dansk/Latin/English)

Grammatik der Grönländische Sprache

Published in 1851, Kleinschmidt’s Grammatik was the seminal work on the language of Greenland. No pictures or conver­sations, but this is the book everyone refers back to. (auf deutsch)

Grammatik der Eskimo-Sprache

Don’t look at me like that, Canadians. It’s the author’s title, not mine. Theodor Bourquin spent most of his missionary career in Nain, Labrador; the second deity in his pantheon was obviously Klein­schmidt.

Bourquin’s book, dating from 1891, is the source of the images shown at the top of this page. The book itself is excellent; putting it into Roman type should make it more accessible to modern students. (auf deutsch)

Eskimo Grammar

Read it and weep. While the Germans were breaking new ground, the English had to make do with . . . Peck.

Edmund Peck was yet another missionary to the far North, this time not a Moravian but an Anglican. In the course of a career in what is now Nunavik, he earned himself the epithet uqammaq, “one who speaks well”. Scattered through the Grammar are plenty of hints that he really did know the language. He just didn’t know how to write a book.

The Killer’s Song and more

For variety’s sake: the Music and Poetry section—about ten pages—from an 1884 Franz Boas article published by the Bureau of American Ethnology. This excerpt includes melodies in .midi format, along with lyrics in a wild and wonderful array of trans­criptions. Boas didn’t even try to regularize his sources’ orthography—and I can’t say I blame him.

Oh, about that killer. It’s a killer whale. I hope nobody was disap­pointed. 450k images

What the Well-Dressed Eskimo Is Wearing

Another winner from the Bureau of Ethnology: thirty pages on clothing—including patterns!—from an 1892 article on Point Barrow, Alaska. On paper this is a long way west of Boas’s turf. But once you get past the detailing and decorations, the basic styles are the same everywhere. 500k images

Georgia Keeling, M.D., from Peace with Honour

Lady Doctresses

This group’s title comes from a 1916 article included with A Woman-Hater. For a still longer list, see the 1898 article included with Dr. Edith Romney. Books are listed in chrono­logical order.

A Woman-Hater

Charles Reade’s take on—among other things—contraltos and female doctors, featuring a detailed account of the obstacles faced by Sophia Jex-Blake and her contem­poraries. 1876-77
2 volumes

Sweethearts and Friends

Although published in 1897, the book was probably written not long after its dramatic date, 1879.

Doctor Victoria

George Gardiner Alexander, a multi-faceted Major General, wrote just one novel in his life. Here it is. 1881
3 volumes

Doctor Breen’s Practice

Also from 1881 comes an American spin on the Lady Doctress genre. For variety’s sake, the doctor is a homeo­pathist, back when this was a legitimate alternative system.

Doctor Zay

By one of those weird coincidences, two different American writers, both associated with The Atlantic, were working on New-England-based female homeopathists at almost exactly the same time. This one came out in 1882.

Dr. Edith Romney

Originally published in 1883 as A Woman’s Chance, the story of a Paris-trained English doctress whose life would have taken a very different route if she had not been beautiful. 3 volumes

Helen Brent, M.D.

A short 1892 novel by Barnard co-founder Annie Nathan Meyer, with some astoundingly modern passages.

Mona Maclean, Medical Student

It may sound like a mid-20th-century teenage romance, but in fact it was written in 1892-93 by real-life doctor Margaret Todd, writing as “Graham Travers”. In spite of the title, the main character spends most of the book on break from medical school. There’s a limit to how much action you can fit into the dissecting room. 3 volumes

Dr. Janet of Harley Street

A sensational—read “trashy”—1894 novel by a real-life doctor. The title character isn’t the main character; she just pulls the strings.

Peace with Honour

And finally: from 1897 comes a Generic Colonial Plotline featuring a tough and decisive woman doctor.

bearded convict rolling a lawn, from Foul Play

I don’t make this stuff up, y’know

. . . but someone did—and the world of literature is the richer for it.

The Rose of Joy

1903 novel by Mary Findlater, featuring the happiest of happy endings.

The Authoress

An entertaining little novel from 1819, in which an author tries to evade—or improve on—the various genres then in fashion. (Some of them still are.)

The Children of the Abbey

Where Alonzo and Melissa goes, The Children of the Abbey must follow. Or precede, if you want to split hairs, because this book was published a few years earlier, on the other side of the Atlantic. The heroine, Amanda, does almost as much traveling as Alonzo, and more than Alida; it seems to have been a charac­teristic of people with names beginning in A. 58 chapters

The Dolly Dialogues

Recommended by the narrator of Dear Enemy, so how could I resist? By Anthony Hope, who gave us The Prisoner of Zenda and hence the proud nation of Ruritania. 600k images

Dora Thorne

Sentiment meets sensation in this 1871 best-seller by Charlotte Brame, writing as “Bertha Clay”.

The First Violin

An English girl studying music in Germany runs into a German violinist with a secret past. two volumes

Foul Play

by Charles Reade and Dion Boucicault. Our Hero is convicted of a crime he did not commit, transported to Australia, and finally shipwrecked on a tropical island with the woman he secretly loves—who happens to be engaged to the man who framed him. two volumes

The Indiscretion of the Duchess

. . . wrapping up Anthony Hope’s 1894 trifecta: The Prisoner of Zenda, The Dolly Dialogues, and now this.

Lady Bluebeard

by Times of India editor Henry Curwen. The plot—such as it is—is really just an armature on which to hang a travelogue of West and South Asia.

The Lady of the Barge

W. W. Jacobs short-story collection featuring the classic “The Monkey’s Paw”. 1.9MB images

The Matrimonial Lottery

From the author of The Rejuvenation of Miss Semaphore.

The Old Manor House

Charlotte Smith novel set in the late 1770s and published in 1793 . . . featuring the least appealing hero and heroine you will ever hope to meet. 52 chapters

The Prisoner of Zenda

The one, the only, the best-seller that gave us Ruritania—or, as it were, “Ruritania”. 600k images

The Rejuvenation of Miss Semaphore

An 1897 novel has fun with the Water of Youth.

The Romance of Poisons

Literature’s first forensic toxicologist made his appearance in 1895.

Alonzo and Melissa frontispiece

American Cheese

Adam’s Daughters

by Julia McNair Wright, published by the American Tract Society—but wait! The moral of the novel, hammered in on page after page, is that girls have to be taught how to earn a living.


This is not Alonzo and Melissa, but—

Wait a minute. If it isn’t Alonzo and Melissa, why are huge chunks of the text word-for-word identical, with only the names changed? And how does the eponymous heroine contrive to travel so comfortably up the Erie Canal . . . ten years before its opening? Answers will have to await successful channeling of the author, one Amelia Stratton Comfield, who published this miracle in 1840.

Baby Mine

1911 novelization of the smash hit stage farce from the year before. 500k images

The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain

Half-baked romance meets North Carolina travelogue. It is hard to say who is the winner. 700k images

The Criminal

I found this slightly amazing crime-and-punishment story while hunting down some of Alida’s donors. The New-York Weekly Magazine, published from mid-1795 to mid-1797, never let a copyright get in the way of a good story. But unlike most, this short serial seems to have been written directly for the magazine. The author is identified only as “L. B.”

And that’s all I know.


. . . otherwise known as The Most Adorable Book ever. The author was a grandniece of Mark Twain, and obviously shared some of his humorist genes. If you have never read this book, what are you waiting for? Includes the author’s illustrations—an integral part of the book. 300k images

Dear Enemy

The sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, starring Sallie McBride—whose graphic style is amazingly similar to Judy Abbott’s. 550k images

A Gentleman of Quality

A surpassingly cheesy mistaken-identity story from 1900, by an author who knew even less about his subject than did Bertha M. Clay.

The Honorable Peter Stirling

A surprisingly gripping 1894 best-seller about municipal politics in New York City. 4 segments

The House of the Vampire

A sinister thriller by George Viereck, who would go on to become better known as a Nazi agent in the US.

John and the Demijohn

From 1869 comes a solid specimen of the Temperance Novel genre. It’s not quite as dreadful as you might think. 700k images

MiSTing of Alonzo and Melissa

Written and first published in 1804, pirated in 1811 and re-published many, many times afterward. The Great American Novel, with commentary by me and assorted proof­readers who just couldn’t help themselves. If you want the plain, unvarnished text you can find it at Project Gutenberg. But this version is more fun.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps, read any random chapter. It will cheer you right up. 23 chapters

Peggy at Spinster Farm

Aunt and niece set up house in rural Massachusetts, with photographs to prove it. 2.1MB images

The Quest for the Rose of Sharon

A young-adult mystery from before there was such a thing as young-adult mysteries.


Helen Hunt Jackson’s huge best-seller from 1884. It was intended to do for American Indians what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for another disenfranchised group . . . but it didn’t quite work out that way. 26 chapters

Spanish Castles by the Rhine

Now that the Ruritanian floodgates have been opened . . . 450k images

The Three Sisters

Not by Chekhov. Not even remotely by Chekhov. A true-crime pamphlet from the press of A. R. Orton . . . for a given definition of “true”, that is. 400k images

scene from Persuasion, drawn by Hugh Thomson

Chapter by Chapter

The books listed here are not necessarily any longer or shorter than those in the previous two groups. But they do at least have some claim to being called Literature.

The House of the Seven Gables

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, prettily illustrated by Helen Mason Grose. 2.4MB images

After Dark

Half a dozen stories by Wilkie Collins, collected in a narrative frame. 6 stories


Jane Austen gives us a heroine she does not expect the reader to like. In 1896 we get an edition illustrated by Hugh Thomson, whom everyone must like. three segments

The Eustace Diamonds

Trollope’s exploration of what happens when an heirloom falls into the hands of a self-centered liar. 20 installments


From 1778 comes Fanny Burney’s first big success, subtitled The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. Illustrated by Hugh Thomson, Arthur Rackham and William Cubitt Cooke. three volumes

The Female Quixote, or, The Adventures of Arabella

Meet Arabella, who does not know the difference between reality and fiction. When reality is 18th-century England, while fiction is a 17th-century French novelist’s inter­pretation of ancient history . . . this can be a problem. 9 Books

The Marble Faun

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s gothic novel, illustrated with photographs of its Italian setting. three segments

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

John Cleland’s classic, better known as Fanny Hill, in an illustrated edition from around 1900. 900k images

Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s spoof on Gothic novels, from the 1907 Dent and Dutton edition with illustrations by C. E. Brock. 2MB images

The Old Curiosity Shop

Dickens tearjerker about a girl in her early teens who finds herself the sole support of her grandfather, a compulsive gambler with an ever-more-tenuous grasp on reality. It does not end well. 73 chapters
divided into 12 parts

Orley Farm

One of the—to all appearances—hundreds of novels Anthony Trollope cranked out in his lifetime. Illustrated by John Everett Millais, engraved by Dalziel. 20 installments


Jane Austen’s last completed novel, the most subtle and nuanced of them all. Illustrated by C. E. Brock . . . and Hugh Thomson, because you can never have too many illustrations. 1.7MB images

Roderick Random

Tobias Smollett’s first big success. You don’t get more 18th-century than this. 1.9MB images
divided among 3 volumes

The Small House at Allington

As promised by the title, a small domestic novel in which Anthony Trollope shows us how one survives a broken heart . . . barely. 20 installments

Things as They Are

. . . or, the Adventures of Caleb Williams. The best-known novel by William Godwin—husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, father of Mary Shelley, because it’s only fair that sometimes a man is best known as Husband Of or Father Of.

The Vicar of Wakefield

With pictures from three illustrated editions, two of them in color. 5.7MB images

Publisher’s Advertising

Many printed books included one or more pages of publisher’s advertising. I’ve linked them here in chronological order.

Taylor and Hessey (London) 1819
included with The Authoress: “Superior Books for Young People”.
Longman (London) 1845
included with Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery: thirty-six pages, including both an Analytical Index and a Catalogue.
Roberts Brothers (Boston) 1869
included with Little Women.
Harper & Brothers (New York) 1869
included with Edward Gould Buffum’s Sights and Sensations in France, Germany and Switzerland.
Roberts Brothers (Boston) 1875
included with Eight Cousins: other Alcott titles from the same publisher.
Leadenhall Press (London) 1891
included with Jerome K. Jerome’s Told After Supper.
Henry Holt (New York) 1894
included with Anthony Hope’s The Indiscretion of the Duchess.
Henry Holt (New York) May 1897
included with Jerome K. Jerome’s Sketches in Lavender, Blue and Green.
David Nutt (London) 1897
included with Asbjørnsen & Moe’s Fairy Tales from the Far North: children’s books.
Marshall, Russell & Co. (London) 1897
included with Maxwell Gray’s Sweethearts and Friends.
Edward Arnold (London and New York) 1897
included with Abel Chapman’s Wild Norway: The Sportsman’s Library.
Henry Holt (New York) 1898
included with Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda.
Hurst & Blackett (London) 1898
included with Jerome K. Jerome’s The Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.
Macmillan (New York and London) 1903
included with Fanny Burney’s Evelina: “Macmillan’s Illustrated Pocket Classics”.
L. C. Page (Boston) April 1909
included with Frederic Dey’s A Gentleman of Quality.
L. C. Page (Boston) August 1909
included with L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.
G. P. Putnam (New York and London) 1915
included with Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring: “Reading Circle Classics for Young People” (books for children).

In Preparation

Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina and the Bahamas in two gorgeously illustrated volumes, from 1731 and later.

Volume 24b of the abridged edition of Venomous Amphibians of South-Central Queensland.