ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures
In my literary ramblings, occasionally I stumble across old books
that are worth reading, yet are at best available as what I term
"scan-offs:" over-priced, minimally processed cheesy clones of free
online resources. Not so the entries in this list: they are labors of
enthusiasm. These are actual e-texts that I have carefully transcribed,
spell-checked, proof-read, and published on Amazon in Kindle
Last updated: 2022-03-16
Quaker City — by George Lippard
Controversial Gothic "dreadful," an outrageous tale of lust, corruption,
and violence; America's best-selling novel at the time.
Virginia Comedians — by John Esten Cooke
Historical romance set in the hard-partying, chivalric, silk-and-velvet
days of colonial Virginia, rose-tinted glasses included.
Money-Maker, and Other Tales — by Jane C. Campbell
Strait-laced but worthy collection of fables on the follies of vice and
conspicuous consumption and the virtues of quiet domestic life.
and Other Stories — by Edmund Quincy
Immaculate, scholarly, sympathetic, and reverently humorous, these tales
speak vividly of times and persons nearly forgotten when written.
- Zoë, or the
Quadroon's Triumph — by Elizabeth D. Livermore
Ostensibly a tale of racism, more accurately a treatise on feminism and
Unitarianism; long-winded at times, but has enjoyable moments.
in a Novel Form — by Rebecca Brodnax Hicks.
Short, sweet, clever, delightful confection. A witty domestic comedy of
life in the Old Dominion, almost worthy of Oscar Wilde.
- Working a
Passage, and Other Stories — by Charles Frederick
Anthology of novellas and short works, including Working a Passage,
Asmodeus, and selections from The Knickerbocker and Putnam's
- The Wherefore Investigating
Company — by Lois Waisbrooker.
An enjoyable progressive story, examining themes of land laws and their
abuses, marriage, inheritance, slavery, racism, and capitalism.
Like It — by Lois Waisbrooker.
Radical, high-spirited, thought-provoking account of warriors against
injustice; notable as an early depiction of the Social Gospel.
Vale — by Lois Waisbrooker.
Didactic, melodramatic, eye-rolling at times, yet delightfully lambastic
treatment of contemporary society.
Second Son — by Margaret Oliphant and Thomas Bailey
Sometimes genteel, sometimes brutal, an ironic jab at conventions of
sex, class, and inheritance in Victorian England.
Parker, the Fugitive — by Emily Clemens Pearson (as Emily
Published before Uncle Tom's Cabin, but not as widely-read; a rough,
fiery, unabashed piece of abolitionist muck-raking.
Adventures of Private Miles O'Reilly — by Charles G.
Rare, surviving example of military humor dating from the Civil War; a
satire of wartime bureaucracy, politics, and corruption.
History of Rinaldo Rinaldini — by Christian August
Vulpius, John Hinckley.
Infamous, yet tremendously popular during the early 1800's, widely
imitated, just as quickly forgotten; a premier example of pulp
Stories — by Charles Frederick Briggs.
Dickensesque, sordid, sardonic tale of fraud, murder, deception, and
dissolution, set in the markets of antebellum New York City.
Thurston — by Bayard Taylor.
Dry and satirical, intelligent, yet unabashedly Victorian romance,
set in upstate New York; an amusing, guilty pleasure.
Spriggins, and Other Sketches — by Frances M.
Companion volume to the hilarious classic Widow Bedott,
containing earlier and later works, including the poignant, unfinished
- Up the
River — by Frederick W. Shelton
Gently humorous and engaging sketches of life in the Hudson River valley
in the early 1850's: a collage of joys, irritants, and chickens.
Charcoal Sketches — by Joseph C. Neal.
Comprehensive compilation of character sketches from one of America's
earliest, foremost, yet all-but-forgotten urban humorists.
Sparrowgrass Papers — by Frederic S. Cozzens.
Amusing anecdotes of an 1850's family moving from the city to a house in
Attorney — by John Treat Irving, Jr.
Enticing, gritty, melodramatic novel of crime in the mean streets of
antebellum Manhattan; not flawless, but worthwhile.
- The Widow
Bedott Papers — by Frances M. Whitcher.
Priceless conversational sketches of Yankee characters and their
foibles; a hilarious though sometimes unsettling social commentary.
- The Trippings of
Tom Pepper — by Charles Frederick Briggs.
Epic serial satire of antebellum New York, notorious for its
unflattering depiction of the literary scene, and other aspects of urban
Knickerbocker Anthology — by Various Authors
Compilation of noteworthy short prose pieces published in the
Knickerbocker Magazine between 1851 and 1861.
- The Van
Gelder Papers — by John Treat Irving, Jr.
Collection of mixed humorous and tragic short stories of Knickerbocker
country, by a nephew of Washington Irving.
- The Hive
of the "Bee-Hunter" — by Thomas Bangs Thorpe.
Easy-going, fast-shooting antecedent of Mark Twain; an entertaining
collection of essays and tales of the Southwest frontier.
- The Slave
of the Lamp — by William North.
Influential forerunner of New York's Bohemian literary movement:
romantic, bathetic, yet fiercely devoted to intellectual liberty.
House — by Elizabeth Stoddard.
Psychological, insightful, and thoroughly entertaining character study,
warts and all: a significant predecessor of modern literature.
Men — by Elizabeth Stoddard.
Ahead of its time: a brilliant, unflinching dissection of a uniquely
Yankee view of human pride, romance, and racial prejudice.
Knickerbocker Gallery — by Lewis Gaylord Clark.
A feast of short works, many by writers still famous today, in tribute
to the editor of the monthly literary magazine of the early 1800's.
- The Adventures of
Harry Franco — by Charles Frederick Briggs.
Delightful, satirical depiction of Manhattan life and nautical merchants
during the 1830's, notable as an early Abolitionist literary work.
- The Adventures
of Gil Blas de Santillane — by Alain René Lesage,
First English translation of a widely influential French comic classic:
a prototype of the naif and his adversities in the human jungle.
Chivalry — by H. H. Brackenridge.
One of the earliest, yet often overlooked, U.S. novels: a hilarious
picture of politics in Pennsylvania during the Whiskey Rebellion.
- Krilof and his
Fables — by Ivan Krylov, W. R. S. Ralston.
First English prose translation of Russia's celebrated fabulist, whose
works were often political, satirical, penetrating, and elegant.
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