Reference

Lists of Public Domain Books

1. From The Guardian's 100 Greatest Novels of all time, 2003

(collated by removing items (a) already on the Wanted list, (b) in-copyright, (c) in-production or (d) completed works, sorted by word count:

* means Project Gutenberg only had one translation available and that this is not an endorsement for the specific translation.

2. From The Guardian's 100 Best Novels Written in English

(only items not on the above list, and not completed SEbooks)

  • Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886) - 82,035 words.
  • The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) - 43,080 words.
  • The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane (1895) - 46,135 words.
  • The Golden Bowl, by Henry James (1904) - 204,500 words.
  • The History of Mr Polly, by HG Wells (1910) - 68,670 words. (more Wells, below)
  • (Wikipedia link:) Hadrian the Seventh, by Frederick Rolfe (1904) - ? not on PG?
  • (on the wanted list) Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan (1678)
  • (on the wanted list) The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759)
  • (on the wanted list) Kim, by Kipling (see below) (1900)
  • (on the wanted list) Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis (1922)
  • (on the wanted list) New Grub Street, by George Gissing (1891)
  • (on the wanted list) Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900)
  • (on the wanted list) The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford (1915)
  • (on the wanted list) Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham (1915)
  • (in production) The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton (1920)
  • (in production) Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)
  • (in production) The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins (1868)
  • (in production) The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915) (see below)
  • (in production) DH Lawerence, The Rainbow
  • (Later says Alex) Joyce's Ulysses, again
  • A Passage to India, by EM Forster (1924) -- in PD very soon, right?
  • Dalloway / Woolf will be in PD soon
  • Great Gatsby, will be PD soon, maybe 2019

(This list is suspiciously similar to the English-language subset of novels from the list at The World's Greatest Books)

3. From The BBC’s The Big Read, 2003.

Public domain itesm from their top 200 novels, as determined by their UK audience (not in the order of the original):

4. From Le Monde’s 100 Books of the (20th) Century

  • The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells - 1898 - PG
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils - Selma Lagerlöf- 1906–07 - Swedish
  • (Alex wants to wait on this) Ulysess - James Joyce - 1922
  • (on the lists above) The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 1901–02 see link above, about 59,000 words.
  • Lord Jim - Joseph Conrad - 1900. 130,100 words.
  • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality - Sigmund Freud - 1905 - German. 35,710 words.
  • Les Vrilles de la vigne - Colette - 1908 - French - not on PG
    • only English on PG by Colette is Barks and Purrs - 17,700 with lots of illustrations
  • Martin Eden (novel) - Jack London - 1909. 138,700 words.
  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge - Rainer Maria Rilke - 1910 - German - not on PG
    • PG English by Rilke:
  • Marcel Proust, Swann's Way, or Remembrances of Things Past Vol. I, 1913, 195,235 words.
  • Not in PG in English (not PD) -- In Search of Lost Time - Marcel Proust - 1927 - French
  • Not in PG in English, just orig. French: Le Grand Meaulnes - Alain-Fournier - 1913 - French
  • Not in PG in English, just orig. French: (poems) Alcools - Guillaume Apollinaire - 1913 - French
  • Six Characters in Search of an Author - Luigi Pirandello - 1921 - Italian - 19,800 words, in Three Plays (PG)
  • The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann - 1924

500 or So Greatest Books

  • See The World's Greatest Books, a list of 560+ Wikipedia-linked books, from the Tables of Contents of the twenty volumes compiled by Hammerton and Mee in 1910.

(obviously there are many duplicates, but there are entire sections of Non-fiction, Drama, Poetry, Lives & Letters, Travel & Adventure, Religion, Economics, Philosophy, Science, etc.)

More of My Public Domain Wanted Ebooks List ▾


  • Suggested Reading List of Short Stories

  • Margery Williams Bianco

    • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco - under 4000 words
    • nothing else in Gutenberg, although a few items might be PD:
    • 1902 The Late Returning - 205 pages x 166 words per page = about 34,000 words or fewer
    • 1904 The Price of Youth - 225 wwp x 312 p = 70,000 words
    • 1906 The Bar ...
    • 1914 The Thing in the Woods (republished in 1924 as by "Harper Williams")
    • 1936 Green Grows the Garden - 117 p x 265wwp = 31,000 words plus illustrations
    • ... more works listed in Bibliography
      • by inference, all her works are in the Public Domain, since she died in 1944. Where to find books, book scans, transcriptions?
    • 1944 Forward Commandos - 260 wwp * 184 pages = 45,000 words or so, plus illustrations.
  • H. G. Wells - PG has tons of stuff by HGW

  • Ambrose Bierce. All his works published in his lifetime are in the public domain sine he died or disappeared in 1914.

    • Devil's Dictionary
    • Short Fiction
      • TODO sort through this:
      • Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. Bierce's famous story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is included in this collection.
      • Fantastic Fables (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1899). Fiction: fables.
      • cf. A Vision of Doom
      • "A Psychological Shipwreck" (1879)
      • "Killed at Resaca" (1887)
      • "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (1887)
      • "One of the Missing" (1888)
      • "A Tough Tussle" (1888)
      • "An Unfinished Race" (1888)
      • "One of Twins" (1888)
      • "A Horseman in the Sky" (1889)
      • "The Spook House" (1889)
      • "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot" (1890)
      • "The Man and the Snake" (1890)
      • "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (1890)
      • "The Realm of the Unreal" (1890)
      • "The Boarded Window" (1891)
      • "The Secret of Macarger's Gulch" (1891)
      • "The Death of Halpin Frayser" (1891)
      • "The Damned Thing" (1893)
      • "The Eyes of the Panther" (1897)
      • "Moxon's Master" (1899)
      • "The Moonlit Road" (1907)
      • "Beyond the Wall" (1907)
      • TODO many more
  • E. Nesbit

    • The Railway Children
    • TODO: Project Gutenberg has so many novel-length stories
    • TODO: Probably some Short Fiction to compile?
  • Gayley and Bullfinch Mythology

  • Jack London

    • more Short Fiction
  • Harold Speed, The Practice and Science of Drawing. Also.

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs

    • John Carter book 2 = The Gods of Mars
    • Tarzan of the Apes - book 1
    • At the Earth's Core
    • The Land that Time Forgot
  • Edward Lear, Nonsense Books, which includes the Owl and the Pussycat, with their runcible spoon.

  • Gayley et al (<= 1922)

    • Poetry of the People
    • Poetry, Its Principles and Progress
  • John Muir

    • Stickeen: An Adventure with a Dog and a Glacier. 1897.
    • The Mountains of California. 1894.
    • The Yosemite. 1912.
    • A Thousand-mile Walk to the Gulf. 1916.
    • TODO many more

  • Shakespeare Tragedies

    • Troilus and Cressida
    • Coriolanus
    • Titus Andronicus
    • Romeo and Juliet
    • Timon of Athens
    • Julius Caesar
    • Macbeth
    • Hamlet
    • King Lear
    • Othello
    • Antony and Cleopatra
    • Cymbeline
  • Shakespeare Comedies

    • The Tempest
    • Two Gentlemen of Verona
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor
    • Measure for Measure
    • The Comedy of Errors
    • Much Ado About Nothing
    • Love's Labour's Lost
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • The Merchant of Venice
    • As You Like It
    • The Taming of the Shrew
    • All's Well That Ends Well
    • Twelfth Night
    • The Winter's Tale
    • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
    • The Two Noble Kinsmen
  • Shakespeare Histories

    • King John
    • Richard II
    • Henry IV, Part 1
    • Henry IV, Part 2
    • Henry V
    • Henry VI, Part 1
    • Henry VI, Part 2
    • Henry VI, Part 3
    • Richard III
    • Henry VIII
  • Shakespeare Poems

  • H. C. Andersen.

    • The True Story of My Life: A Sketch (65,200 words)
      • some overlap with The Improvisatore (about 18,000 words) which can be downloaded as PDF of page scans and/or OCR which needs to be corrected / transcribed
    • TODO collate these Fairy Tales:
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1597
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27200
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32572
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17860
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32571
    • http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/43600
  • R. L. Stevenson

  • Berthold Auerbach

    • On the Heights, novel
    • Waldfreid, novel
    • Short Fiction
    • Edelweiss, a story
    • etc.
  • 1001 Nights (Arabian Nights):

  • The same, the tales proper: (1.6 mill. w.)

    • 1 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3435
    • 2 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3436
    • 3 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3437
    • 4 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3438
    • 5 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3439
    • 6 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3440
    • 7 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3441
    • 8 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3442
    • 9 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3443
    • 10 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3444
  • Supplemental: (1 mill. w.)

    • 11 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3445
    • 12 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3446
    • 13 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3447
    • 14 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3448
    • 15 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3449
    • 16 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3450
  • Aucassin and Nicolete:

  • Brothers Grimm

    • which translation?
    • which stories?
    • print version on the shelf (International Collector's library) has 211 stories and no copyright date or translator
  • Beatrix Potter. She died in 1943, + 70 years = 2013

    • almost all of her stories were published before 1923, so include those 22: (< 28,000 words)
    • The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
    • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903)
    • The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
    • The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904)
    • The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904)
    • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
    • The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905)
    • The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
    • The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906)
    • The Story of Miss Moppet (1906)
    • The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907)
    • The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908)
    • The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or, The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908)
    • The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
    • The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909)
    • The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (1910)
    • The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (1911)
    • The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912)
    • The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913)
    • Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes (1917)
    • The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918)
    • Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes (1922)
    • X not out of copyright? -- The Tale of Little Pig Robinson (1930)
    • X just discovered/published/illustrated by Quentin Blake -- The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (2016dagger)[67]
  • Austen bonus items not on WGB list:

  • Aphra Behn -

    • Oroonoko (+) (32,500 words) buried in Behn's complete works, 13 stories - 177,000 w.
    • other twelve stories average 12,000 words or so
  • Chamisso, Adelbert Von

    • Peter Schlemihl, the Shadowless Man (24,500w.) PG
      • other translations
    • other short stories? by Chamisso to combine?
      • The Story Without an End (11,200 w.)

Other Legally Uncertain Items from the Guardian's Top 100 List

There are a number of works in that weird fuzzy legal area on my Google Spreadsheet listing all 100 novels from the Guardian List. Works that are PD in Canada but not the US, or works that I could not find on Project Gutenberg (or Hathi Trust as full text search) are marked "When PD?"

More stuff from The Big Read, not PD yet

Almost in Public Domain or will be (fairly) soon:

  • A. A. Milne - Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926
    • Milne has many other stores transcribed on Gutenberg, that might be worth determining if/how to make into a collection (or some standalone?)
  • Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front - 1929
  • Lewis Grassic Gibbon - Sunset Song - 1932 (author died in 1935)

And in a decade or two? (maybe?)

  • Daphne du Maurier - Rebecca - 1938
  • The Hobbit - JRR T - 1937
  • Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath - 1939
  • Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men - novella - 1937
  • Aldous Huxley - Brave New World - 1932
  • Stella Gibbons - Cold Comfort Farm - 1932
  • Arthur Ransome - Swallows and Amazons - 1930