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 -- April 2021
The Memoirs of Lætitia Pilkington give a wonderful glimpse into several
worlds of the 18th Century – respectable Dublin, into which she was
born the daughter of an eminent doctor; Dr. Swift and his circle, in which she
moved until the failure of her marriage; Grub Street and the demimonde of
London where she was afterwards forced to scrape a living. She was friend and
confidante of Jonathan Swift, Samuel Richardson, and Colley Cibber. Sometime
she hob-nobbed with Dukes, sometimes she was in a debtor's prison. Throughout
it all she kept her courage, her wit, and her remarkable memory for the telling
anecdote, which she drew on for her memoirs. Though they were written
principally to make money, both through sales and through blackmail, she hoped
That I, like the classics, shall be read
When time, and all the world are dead.
They have long been drawn on by biographers of Dr. Swift, but fell into neglect during the Victorian era, which no doubt found her altogether unsuitable for respectable readers. There have been a few to admire her, though: Virginia Woolf began her appreciation
Can you imagine a very extraordinary cross between Moll
More recently, interest has been re-awakened by a (very expensive, and now out of print) edition in 1997, and Norma Clarke's recent biography Queen of the Wits. Here she is in her own words; and if it is not all literally true, then it certainly should be.
What do you think?
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