The Public Domain Review

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Music Hall Performer Billy Williams

Monday 14 January 2013 at 17:18

Richard Isaac Banks (1878–1915), who changed his name to Billy Williams after leaving his birthplace of Australia, was one of the most recorded popular entertainers of his time. Born in Melbourne, Williams tried a number of jobs before embarking on an entertainment career which led him to come to England in 1899. He became a popular entertainer in the music halls singing what were known as chorus-songs, and also appeared in pantomime. The year 1912 seemed to be the zenith of Williams’ career – he appeared in the first Royal Command Performance of that year and achieved glowing reviews in the national press. Sadly this fame was not to last as Williams became ill in late 1914 and died in Hove near Brighton in March 1915, the proximate cause being complications after an operation, but rumoured to be connected with “previous social excesses.” (Wikipedia) MP3 Download Internet Archive Link Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/14/music-hall-performer-billy-williams/


Making a Living (1914)

Friday 11 January 2013 at 17:31

Making a Living (1914) marked Charlie Chaplin’s first ever film appearance. In the film he plays a lady-charming swindler, Edgar English, who runs afoul of the Keystone Kops. Chaplin strongly disliked the picture, but one review picked him out as “a comedian of the first water.” Although his character wears a large moustache, top hat, and carries a cane, it was not until his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, that Chaplin would appear as his famous Tramp character with which he would thereon be identified. The music we hear over the film (added afterwards) is by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. Download from Internet Archive Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/11/making-a-living-1914/


The Nine Lives of a Cat (1860)

Thursday 10 January 2013 at 17:41

The Nine Lives of a Cat – a Tale of Wonder, by Charles Bennett; 1860; Griffith and Farran, London. Beautifully illustrated (though perhaps not so well rhymed!) tale of the cat with nine lives. From the preface: This tale of wonder is told for children; with which view, it has been carefully designed and very nicely printed. For some time past, it has arrived at the dignity of a popular Nursery Tale in the Author’s family ; and it is hoped it will merit the same good fortune elsewhere. It will be worth while explaining, that the circle in each page is made to represent some object in connection with the story ; and, that as some of them have proved rather puzzling, to Juvenile admirers has been left the task of ” finding them out.” The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/10/the-nine-lives-of-a-cat-1860/


Simple Songs: Virginia Woolf and Music

Wednesday 9 January 2013 at 13:17

Last year saw the works of Virginia Woolf enter the public domain in many countries around the world. To celebrate Emma Sutton looks at Woolf’s short story ‘A Simple Melody’ and the influence which music had upon the writer who once wrote that music was ‘nearest to truth’. As Virginia Woolf’s letters and diaries amply record, music was a central part of her social life as it was for many of her contemporaries and she was at her best as a humorist writing about these occasions. She records with glee the various mishaps that befall musicians and audiences – a prima donna throwing down her music in a rage; a button popping off the plump Clive Bell’s waistcoat during the slow movement of a piano sonata; an elderly man crashing loudly but astonishingly unhurt down the stairs at Covent Garden. The social conventions, artifice and pretensions governing these performances intrigue her and allow her to sharpen her wit, but music wasn’t only an occasion for slapstick humour or social satire. It played a central part in the political vision of Woolf’s writing, shaping her understanding and representations of feminism and sexuality, pacifism and cosmopolitanism, social class and anti-Semitism. And it [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/09/simple-songs-virginia-woolf-and-music/


Decayed Daguerreotypes

Tuesday 8 January 2013 at 12:09

A selection of images from the Library of Congress found via the always excellent Ptak Science Books blog. The daguerreotype, invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1837, was the first commercially successful photographic process and was popular throughout the mid-19th century. Daguerreotype portraits were made by the model posing (often with head fixed in place with a clamp to keep it still the few minutes required) before an exposed light-sensitive silvered copper plate, which was then developed by mercury fumes and fixed with salts. This fixing however was far from permanent – like the people they captured the images too were subject to change and decay. They were extremely sensitive to scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of the glass cover if the glue holding it in place deteriorated. As well as rubbing, the glass itself can also deteriorate and bubbles of solvent explode upon the image. The daguerreotypes below are from the studio of Matthew Brady, one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War which earned him the title of “father of photojournalism”. The Library of Congress received the majority of the [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/08/decayed-daguerreotypes/


The First New Year (1885)

Monday 31 December 2012 at 14:39

The First New Year, by George Warwick; 1885; C. T. Bainbridge’s sons, New York. A short little poem meditating on the inevitable end of all things and the power of new beginnings. Little is known about the author George Warwick although he appears to also be the author of this poem on the theme of Christmas in a similar pamphlet series kept by the Library of Congress. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the Library of Congress. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/31/the-first-new-year-1885/


Frank C. Stanley singing Auld Lang Syne (1910)

Friday 28 December 2012 at 19:00

Frank C. Stanley performing Auld Lang Syne, the poem written by the Scotsman Robert Burns which is traditionally sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”. The lyrics of the poem were themselves heavily based on pre-existing verses. Robert Burns sent a copy of his song to the Scots Musical Museum with the remark, “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.” Some of the lyrics were indeed “collected” rather than composed by the poet; the ballad “Old Long Syne” printed in 1711 by James Watson shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus to Burns’ later poem, and is almost certainly derived from the same “old song”. It is a fair supposition to attribute the rest of [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/28/frank-c-stanley-singing-auld-lang-syne-1910/


Engravings from Oliver Goldsmith’s History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1825)

Thursday 27 December 2012 at 16:33

“Beautiful and appropriate” engravings for Oliver Golsmith’s History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1825). Oliver Goldsmith was (1730-1774) was an Anglo-Irish novelist, playwright and poet, who is best known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield, his pastoral poem The Deserted Village, and his plays The Good-Natur’d Man and She Stoops to Conquer. He is also thought to have written the classic children’s tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, the source of the phrase “goody two-shoes”. Along with Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson he was a founding member of “The Club” in 1764, a London dining club who would meet weekly bringing together the leading lights of the city’s artist and literary scene. (All images taken from A History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1825) housed at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, contributed by the University of California Libraries. Also viewable in book-reader format at the Internet Archive. Hat-tip to Pinterest user Donato Ricci). Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/27/engravings-from-history-of-the-earth-and-animated-nature-1825/


Christmas Festive Bonanza Digest

Saturday 22 December 2012 at 13:21

To celebrate the festive season we have put together, just for you our beloved readers, a little Christmas digest including all our festive content from this year and last. Enjoy! Diary Days from Christmas Past With December 25th fast approaching we have put together a little collection of entries for Christmas Day from an eclectic mix of different diaries spanning five centuries, from 1599 to 1918. Amid famed diarists such as the wife-beating Samuel Pepys, the distinctly non-festive John Adams, and the rhapsodic Thoreau, there are a sprinkling of daily jottings from relative unknowns – many speaking apart from loved ones, at war, sea or in foreign climes.Read More » A Pictorial History of Santa Claus Contrary to what many believe, Santa Claus as we know him today – sleigh riding, gift-giving, rotund and white bearded with his distinctive red suit trimmed with white fur – was not the creation of the Coca Cola Company. We’ve put together a little pictorial guide showing his evolvement through the ages. Read More » Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost (1901) Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost, directed by Walter R. Booth, is the oldest known film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel A Christmas Carol – [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/22/christmas-festive-bonanza-digest/


A Christmas Sermon by Robert Louis Stevenson (1900)

Friday 21 December 2012 at 19:16

A Christmas Sermon, by Robert Louis Stevenson; 1900; C. Scribner’s Sons, New York. A Christmas Sermon by Robert Louis Stevenson written while he convalesced from a lung ailment at Lake Sarnac in the winter of 1887. In the short text he meditates on the questions of death, morality and man’s main task in life which he concludes is “To be honest, to be kind — to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence.” The piece was to be published in Scribner’s magazine the following December. This pamphlet edition is from 1900, published 6 years after Stevenson’s death at the age of just 44. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the Library of Congress. Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription!

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/12/21/a-christmas-sermon-by-robert-louis-stevenson-1900/