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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 -- May 2021

 A Counterblast to Tobacco
King James VI of Scotland and I of England

Portrait of King James

By the end of the 16th Century smoking had become widespread and popular in Britain. Christopher Marlowe declared that "all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools." Many disagreed, however, and King James, though a lover of boys, abhorred tobacco. In 1604  he initiated a two-pronged attack on the habit, imposing a heavy tax on it, and publishing this pamphlet. He attacks the habit of smoking from several angles, culminating in a rousing peroration where he describes it as

"A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."

For many years afterwards, James was dismissed as a silly and puritanical bigot; however his views are now commonplace, even orthodox. How times change: the pendulum swings, and then swings back.

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

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