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 - PG at Three Plays
  • 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 ▾


  • 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


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