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eBook available: Laurel Vane

Laurel VaneThe latest release from Distributed Proofreaders built from images in our Digital Library is another Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller novel, Laurel Vane; or, The Girls’ Conspiracy. This is one of Mrs. Miller’s less over-the-top works, but that is not to say that it isn’t thoroughly melodramatic.

The Laurel Vane of the novel’s title is a young orphan whose life changes dramatically when she agrees to impersonate a wealthier girl in order to enable that girl’s elopement. In true story paper fashion, there’s a lot of angst and romance (and a bit of murder) before the tale is done.

The entire book may be read online (or downloaded in various electronic formats) at Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: Custer’s Last Shot

Custer's Last ShotOur latest title to be made available to Distributed Proofreaders is Custer’s Last Shot; or, The Boy Trailer of the Little Horn, an adventure from Frank Tousey‘s Wide Awake Library. The dime novel tells the tale of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, an event that was still well within living memory at the time of the book’s 1883 publication. It was an early fictional representation of George Armstrong Custer, and far from the last.

If you would like to help make this historically interesting title more readily available in eBook formats, a few minutes of your time can make a difference. Please read this earlier post to learn how the process works, then join in the proofreading at the project page.


Available for proofreading: More Stories of the Three Pigs

More Stories of the Three PigsThe latest title to enter the Distributed Proofreaders system is More Stories of the Three Pigs, a collection of follow-up stories to the well-known fable. This book comes from the Instructor Literature Series, a set of small booklets used for teaching elementary school students. Previously, we released an eBook of Stories of Robin Hood from this series.

If you are interested in helping to work on this project, you can read more about the process in this earlier post, and then you can join in the work at the project page.


eBook available: The Curse of Pocahontas

The Curse of PocahontasOur latest eBook release from Distributed Proofreaders is The Curse of Pocahontas, a 19th century story paper melodrama published by pseudonymous author Wenona Gilman. The story’s heroine is a descendant of Pocahontas who also happens to be half-Mexican, and the titular curse allegedly dooms her chances at a happy love affair. In typical story paper fashion, her path to eventual happiness is blocked by murder and conspiracy, but the book is surprisingly kind to her in spite of telling a story essentially rooted in the typical racism and sexism of its era.

Social commentary aside, the book’s most interesting characteristic may be its willingness to directly reference contemporary popular fiction. Early in the book, two characters have a fairly detailed discussion about Ships that Pass in the Night, a novel by Beatrice Harraden. Later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes plays a role in the story. Similar to the references to scientific and medical advances used in some of Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller‘s works, this helps to demonstrate that story paper authors made an effort to incorporate subjects of immediate interest to their readers into their tales.

To read the whole story for yourself, you can visit Project Gutenberg, where the entire book can be viewed online or downloaded in several eBook formats.


eBook available: Countess Vera

Countess VeraFresh from Distributed Proofreaders comes another Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller novel in eBook form: Countess Vera; or, The Oath of Vengeance, a tale first serialized in the New York Family Story Paper in October, 1882 and later published as part of Lovell’s Library. Like the earlier The Rose and the Lily, this melodramatic story is written entirely in the present tense, and like many of Mrs. Miller’s novels, it deals with themes of premature burial and revenge (in addition to the perhaps more expected romance).

The Lovell’s Library edition used as the basis for the new eBook also includes a short story called “The Mysterious Beauty,” dealing with the misadventures of an Englishman who travels overseas with a niece in order to improve his health. This “filler” story is almost certainly not written by Mrs. Miller and most likely was taken from some British periodical. However, at this time, an earlier source has not yet been identified.

The entire book may be read online or downloaded at Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: The Scientific Tourist through Ireland

The Scientific Tourist through IrelandAfter several months of hard work at Distributed Proofreaders, another book from our digital collection has been released in a new electronic edition. The Scientific Tourist through Ireland, published in 1818, is a guidebook for readers planning to visit Ireland. After a general introduction to some of the types of sights to be seen, the bulk of the volume consists of a county-by-county breakdown of noteworthy sites. The “Scientific” aspect alluded to by the title is the fact that, in addition to historical and cultural destinations, the book also notes the locations of interesting plants and minerals across the island.

Not surprisingly, much of the volume is a fairly dry read, written in a terse, abbreviated style to cram the maximum amount of information into relatively few pages. However, the author does still find time for the occasional unexpected anecdote or aside, such as this one, in reference to a ruined Divinity School in the district of Fenaught:

The E. window is considered as a specimen of very curious workmanship; and the tourist must not fail to notice a line drawn across the middle of the eastern gable, with a figure on the N. side, about 12 feet from the ground, said to represent an evil spirit who was very troublesome to St. Cullin, the founder, during the period of its erection, this black gentleman acting the part of Penelope towards her suitors, and pulling down in the night what the Saint and his holy comrades had set up during the day. To check the troublesome intruder, the Saint blessed some ropes and drew them one night along the top of the building, when the Spirit, like a fly in a spider’s nest, got entangled in the ropes, and being unable to extricate himself, was caught by the monks in the morning, who gave him some sound correction for his offence, but set him loose again upon the public, as is too often done by our modern police, and pretty much, perhaps, for similar purposes.

For those wishing to learn more about what the early 19th century traveler could discover in Ireland, the entire text may be read or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: Addie’s Husband

Addie's HusbandOur latest title to enter Distributed Proofreaders is Addie’s Husband; or, Through Clouds to Sunshine, a 19th century romance novel by British author Mrs. Gordon Smythies. This particular edition of the novel was published as part of the extremely long-running Seaside Library, a series that included inexpensive reprints of a wide variety of works.

To learn about how the proofreading process works, see this earlier post. To help with the work of producing a new electronic edition of the text, visit the project page.


eBook available: Motor Matt’s Promise

Motor Matt's PromiseThe adventures of Motor Matt continue in the latest Project Gutenberg release from Distributed Proofreaders and our Digital Library. In Motor Stories #14, Motor Matt’s Promise; or, The Wreck of the Hawk, the motor boys continue their New Orleans adventures, with the situation complicated by the involvement of Matt’s rogueish doppelganger, Joe Dashington, who enlivens the story with lengthy bursts of slang such as:

“On the level, Whistler, you’ve got past my guard. But what’s the diff? You’re one-two-seven with me for lifting me out of that bunch of trouble. But, tell me, whose game of muggins is this, and what’s the stake? Anything higher than two-call-five and a quarter to see puts me out of the running. You’ve heard of the bank that broke the man at Monte Carlo? Well, listen—I’m It. Please drop that dizzy front, old fel, and tell me why you’re a counterfeit. Not being a has-wasser myself, I’m game for anything that promises kopecks, simoleons, or anything white or yellow with the eagle bird and E Pluribus Get-there on the side. Have one?”

The main adventure is followed by an assortment of filler material, including the conclusion to the previous volume’s two-part war story and non-fiction articles on such topics as logging and ostrich raising.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: The Square Jaw

Square JawThe latest completed title out of Distributed Proofreaders is Henry Ruffin and AndrĂ© Tudesq’s The Square Jaw, a collection of articles written by the two French war correspondents during the first World War and translated into English for this collection.

Since these were reported as events were happening, and because they were aimed at the French public, the tone of these writings differs in some ways from many other accounts of the conflict. While many of the usual horrors are on display, the tone of the pieces has a certain underlying optimism — clearly intended to boost morale — and there is a very strong focus on the friendship between France and Britain and the honor of British troops. Specific details about times and places are often intentionally excluded, though there are some thorough accounts of the fates of certain small French country towns.

While this book certainly doesn’t give the modern reader a thorough perspective on the conflict, it is an interesting glimpse into what some of the people most affected by the war may have been reading while it was going on around them. The full text can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Motor Matt’s Queer Find

Motor Stories #13Another Motor Stories adventure is now available thanks to Distributed Proofreaders and our Digital Library. In Motor Matt’s Queer Find; or, The Secret of the Iron Chest, number thirteen in the series, Matt and his friends become entangled in yet another dangerous situation, this time in New Orleans. Interestingly, while past supernatural occurrences in the series have been explained away scientifically, this adventure forces Matt to confront some things that simply don’t fit with his rational worldview.

As usual, the entire adventure can be read online (or downloaded in eBook format) through Project Gutenberg.

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Last Modified: March 19, 2015