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28 April 2020

Free classical literature in the public domain

Copyright usually expires 70 years after an author’s death and their works then enter the public domain. This means that websites are free to distribute and republish much of classical literature which can be read online or downloaded to your favourite device.

Here are some of the best sources:

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg provides over 66000 thousand texts downloadable in a variety of formats. Check out their top 100 for some inspiration on your next free read! Link to Project Gutenberg's top 100

Open Library

A mixture of public domain books (often in original format) and other online books for loan. Link to immediately accessible books. Read online or download in epub or pdf format.


1000s of book for quick download in epub format Link to Feedbooks public domain books


Public domain audio books read by volunteers.

Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature

Over 6000 digitised original children’s books complete with original artwork and illustrations.

British Library Flikr

If you prefer to look at pictures instead then the British Library Flikr page has 1000s of beautiful illustrations from a variety of classic text including Fauna, Flora, Cats, Fashion, Book Covers and Children’s Book Illustrations.

Many public domain titles are also full accessible from Google Books Search

If you liked these, you might also like the following ARU Library subscriptions:

Historical Text

Original digitised books and first editions published from 1473-1914 including Early English Books Online (EEBO) and British Library’s 19th Century Collection

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Biographies of over 60,000 people who helped shape Britain, including many of the authors of classic literature.

See the History Subject Guide and English Literature Subject Guide for more databases that may be of interest.

Image: British Library

Topics: Library resources