100 years ago: free books from 1913

100 years ago: free books from 1913

It is the year 1913 (one hundred years ago). Democrat Woodrow Wilson has defeated Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Progressive Party (Bull Moose) Teddy Roosevelt, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. The War to End All Wars (World War I…The Great War) is a year away from starting.

Women’s suffrage is in the news in the USA (of which there are 48 states), although it won’t become the law of the land until 1920.

Silent movies are popular (sound is more than a decade away). One features Barney Oldfield, daredevil automobile driver (who would become the first person clocked at driving sixty miles per hour on an oval track).

Books are also enjoyed by the masses. Similar to Harry Potter in our time, there were Oz book clubs and lines for the next one in the series. People are also reading serialized stories in pulp magazines, which might later be published in book form (I’m including ones here that first appeared in 1913). Those magazines might cost a dime.

Let’s take a look at some of the books from 1913 you can get for free (they are all in the public domain in the USA).

Pollyanna
by Eleanor H. Portman

The term “Pollyanna” is still used to describe someone with a perpetually optimistic outlook, although it may now be done in a way that is less than complimentary. This children’s novel went on to have more than ten sequels, and several movie adaptations. I suspect many readers of this blog first became familiar with it through the Disney Hayley Mills version (Pollyanna).

Sons and Lovers
by D.H. Lawrence

Considered…improper by some at the time, it is now cited as a great novel.

Return of Tarzan
The Gods of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Bursting on to the scene the previous year with Tarzan and A Princess of Mars (introducing John Carter), Burroughs fans could read the second books in those series syndicated in pulps. It’s hard to overestimate the pop cultural impact Burroughs has had (especially for geeks like me…but not limited to us).

The Bobbsey Twins at School
The Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge
By “Laura Lee Hope”

Before television series, even before radio series, there were book series. From what I can tell, there were two published that year, which tells you about the demand for these children’s books. Certainly, they have lasted into contemporary times, even spawning modernized versions.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
by L. Frank Baum

Speaking of series, L. Frank Baum had tried to end his popular Oz series three years earlier by having the Land of Oz isolated from the rest of the world through magic. Well, popular demand was so high, that this book restored contact…through wireless! It introduces Scraps, the Patchwork Girl (a doll brought to life). Scraps is a popular character, with a cosmic fool personality mind of her own.

The Valley of the Moon
by Jack London

London had become famous with the rough and tumble tales The Sea Wolf and White Fang. In the next few years, the author wrote more experimental works, like Before Adam and, in 1912 (“last year” in this post), a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, The Scarlet Plague. Valley of the Moon is a much more realistic piece. It involves a working class couple in Oakland who set off to find farmland to own, and interact with some of the interesting people in the greater San Francisco area where London lived.

O Pioneers!
by Willa Cather

A still popular novel of rural America.

Theodore Roosevelt; an Autobiography
by Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt had already been President..and was a beloved author. In 1912, a split with the Republican party (and more specifically with Taft) over anti-trust (Roosevelt felt Taft had been too aggressive). Despite having run in the primaries as a Republican, Roosevelt split off from the party to run as Progressive (the “Bull Moose party”).

So, enjoy your literary time trip to one century ago? Hm..I wonder what books published in 2013 will still be popular in 2113?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in theย I Love My Kindle blog.

5 Responses to “100 years ago: free books from 1913”

  1. Cram Bron Says:

    It was long time ago, when there were no videos!
    Not it is era of multimedia!
    I use ArkMC application to watch videos from different sources on my Kindle.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’ve actually read 5 of those titles. I hadn’t realized there was a sequel to “Pollyanna,” so I went in search of that. While reading the reviews, I came across the phrase, “well worn copy.” That is the third time this week I have encountered that phrase, and each time I’ve read it, I’ve realized that’s something else the Kindle brings to an end. No longer can we tell how often a title has been read by the condition of its cover and pages. When I think of a “well worn book,” I think of mothers passing copies down to their daughters or books handed from friend to friend. I can say that my first Kindle Keyboard is “well worn,” but that says nothing of the books within its memory.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      My adult kid likes getting a book with evidence of other people’s use. I know other people like that, too…it gives them a sense of history and a connection to the other readers, perhaps. I prefer mine to be pristine, both before and after I read them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Actually, sound first appeared in the movies in 1927’s “The Jazz Singer”, which was basically a silent film with a few sound sequences. The “talkies” didn’t really take off until 1928/29.

    Taft had been TR’s hand-picked successor, but Taft fell out of favor with TR — hence TR’s 3rd party run — giving the presidency to Wilson: an event bemoaned to this day by conservatives almost as much as FDR’s victory almost 20 years later :grin

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, that’s essentially correct: 1927 is “more than a decade” after 1913, as I wrote in the post. ๐Ÿ™‚ I say “essentially” because there were sound experiments with movies back well before 1913, but there was a big leap in 1927…and Al Jolson adlibbing in The Jazz Singer is commonly thought to be the first sort of use of sound as we think of it today.

      Thanks for the additional insight on Teddy Roosevelt!

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