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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 -- August 2022

 Gossip in a Library, by Edmund Gosse

Portrait of Edmund Gosse

     Edmund Gosse (1849-1928) was a prominent critic of art and literature in the late 19th Century. His father was a naturalist and was deeply committed to a small Puritanical sect, the Plymouth Brethren. His childhood was initially happy as they spent their summers in Devon where his father was developing the ideas which gave rise to the craze for the marine aquarium. After his mother died when he was eight they moved to Devon permanently. His life with his father became increasingly strained by his father's expectations that he should follow in his religious tradition. Gosse was sent to a boarding school where he began to develop his own interests in literature. He later gave an account of his childhood in the book Father and Son which has been described as the first psychological biography. At the age of 18 and working in the British Museum in London, he broke away from his father's influence.

    His accomplishments include translating Ibsen into English for the first time, and becoming one of England's leading art critics, specialising in sculpture. He taught literature at Cambridge. Later, he became the librarian of the House of Lords. He was also a collector of rare books himself, and Gossip in a Library consists of a series of reviews, some adulatory, others quite scathing, of some of his favourites. A few of them are already in our collection; others will be added in the future. Most are available as page scans in various places in the World Wide Web see the list at the end of the book.

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

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