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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 -- November 2020

The Surprising Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew, King of the Beggars

portrait of carew

Bampfylde More Carew was the son of a clergyman in the West of England, who ran away from school to become a vagabond. He had a long career as dog thief, confidence trickster, fortune teller and beggar, and was imprisoned and transported to America twice, escaping and returning to England each time. By his own account he was elected to be the "king" of the beggars in England in recognition of his skill. He would pose as as a shipwrecked sailor, a deranged University scholar, an impoverished clergyman . . . whatever was most likely to prompt a show of alms. In each case he had the appropriate clothing and appearance, and a carefully prepared story which would stand up to the most searching enquiry. His victims included wealthy merchants and noblemen, as well as many other less eminent but still well-to-do persons, as he scorned to swindle the poor.
           When he grew too old for the road, he retired to Bickleigh, a village near Exeter in Devonshire, and lived respectably for the last few years of his life. His Adventures were first published in 1745 and were probably based on his reminiscences as dictated to the anonymous editor.  They are lively and entertaining, but how much is true cannot now be known.  Indeed, it poses an interesting logical puzzle: When a man boasts of how good a liar he is, how far should he be believed?

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