Explore the Best 15 Public Domain Books of All Time

Explore the Best 15 Public Domain Books of All Time

Header Photo by: Kelly Sikkema

The world of literature is full of incredible works that have stood the test of time. From classic novels to thought-provoking works of non-fiction, there is something for everyone in the public domain. In this article, we'll be exploring 15 of the best public domain books of all time, from timeless masterpieces to captivating adventures.

What is a Public Domain Book?

A public domain book is a book that is no longer protected by copyright. This means that anyone can use, reproduce, or distribute the work without permission from the author or publisher. There are many reasons why a book might enter the public domain, including the expiration of the copyright term or the author releasing the work into the public domain.

"Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of this scene"
— Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)


Where Can I Check If a Book is in the Public Domain?

There are several online resources that can help you determine whether a book is in the public domain. One of the most comprehensive is the Project Gutenberg, which has over 60,000 free eBooks available for download. Other resources include The Online Books Page, which lists over two million books that are available online, and the Public Domain Review, which features a collection of books, images, and other works that have entered the public domain.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


(Photo by: Annie Spratt)

How Long Until a Book is in the Public Domain?

The length of time that a book remains under copyright protection varies depending on the jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, works created after January 1, 1978 are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. For works created before that date, the copyright term is different and depends on several factors, including the date of publication and the date of death of the author.

“I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.” - Frederick Douglass

What Other Interesting Books are Going to Be in the Public Domain Soon?

Books from 1927 will enter the public domain in the United States in 2023. 

Now, let's dive into the list of 15 public domain books that everyone should read:

  1. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen - 1813
  2. "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville - 1851
  3. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll - 1865
  4. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 1892
  5. "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells - 1898
  6. "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. Du Bois - 1903
  7. "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington - 1901
  8. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde - 1890
  9. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain - 1876
  10. "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens - 1859
  11. "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte - 1847
  12. "Dracula" by Bram Stoker - 1897
  13. "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas - 1844
  14. "Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil" by W.E.B. Du Bois - 1920
  15. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - 1845

(Photo by J Dean on Unsplash)

These 15 public domain books are a treasure trove of timeless literature and thought-provoking narratives. From the classic tales of Jane Austen and Mark Twain, to the insightful works of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, this list represents the very best of what the public domain has to offer. With free access to these timeless masterpieces, there has never been a better time to explore the rich heritage of literature and ideas that make up our cultural heritage. So, whether you are an avid reader or simply seeking to expand your literary horizons, these 15 books are the perfect place to start.


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