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The Reader, by Alexander Ver Huell, c. 1880

About Us

The Ex-Classics project was founded in 2000 to fill an unmet need.  When reading the blurb etc. to a book by Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte, say, we would often come across sentences like "Favourite reading included . . ."  If  it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us. So off we go to the library or bookshop, to be met first with blank stares and then with the information that the book has been out of print for decades. Our first two books were Gil Blas and Hudibras, which are prime examples of this This web site is dedicated to rescuing these works from obscurity and making them available online, both for reading directly, and for downloading.

Book of the Month -- December 2021

 A Groatsworth of Wit by  Robert Greene

Robert Greene (1558 1592) was an English dramatist, poet, pamphleteer, rake and debauchee. He appears as a minor character in both of Anthony Burgess' Elizabethan novels Nothing Like The Sun (about Shakespeare) and A Dead Man In Deptford (about Marlowe) A graduate of Clare Hall, Cambridge, he eloped with a wealthy woman whom he abandoned after having spent all her money. He then went to London, where he lived by writing, associated with "whores, cony-catchers and lewd fellows" and spent money faster than he got it on drunkenness and debauchery. In his short life he wrote six plays, many poems, and numerous pamphlets, mostly love stories and accounts of criminals and swindlers. His "Groatsworth of Wit", published posthumously, is a disguised autobiography, but is best known for the first reference in print to William Shakespeare as a playwright:

". . . there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country."

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Max Adeler contemplating the Patent Office Report, by Arthur B. Frost

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