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The Reader, by Alexander Ver Huell, c. 1880

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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 -- June 2021

 Mrs. Beeton's Cookbook 

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The Book of Household Management, by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, was published in  1861. An immediate success, it has long been regarded as the quintessence of Victorian cookery. It has been published and republished in new editions which modified the original more and more; when the last edition appeared in the 1960's little if any trace of Mrs. Beeton's work was left.  Far more than just a cookery book, it contains all that was needed for a newly-married woman to face keeping house with confidence -- what kitchen equipment to buy, how to clean everything, what servants to have, what to look for in hiring them, how to raise children and cure their diseases, and much more. Throughout the book there are paragraphs describing all the plants and animals used for food, with illustrations of them in their natural habitat.  But it is the 1800 or so recipes which are the glory of the book. These range from the delicious, such as Raised Pie of Poultry or Game [i.e. the very traditional English game pie], or Truffles with Champagne, to the frankly unappetizing, such as Very Plain Bread Pudding, or Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes (Cost, 1 1/2 d. per quart.) From the elaborate like Nesselrode Pudding to the very simple such as Box of Chocolates (Seasonable at any time). Some of her ingredients are now unfortunately unobtainable, such as larks and barberries, but there are many recipes which would still be easily prepared and to the taste of modern palates. Try them and see!


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

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