Decorated by Walter Crane

November 28, 2016

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Distributed Proofreaders celebrates its 33,000th title posted to Project Gutenberg.

“. . . decorated by Walter Crane.” As soon as I saw those words I knew I was sunk. When a fellow Distributed Proofreaders volunteer wrote and told me she’d stumbled across this book and it just reminded her of me (okay, she said it jumped up and down and screamed my name, but I digress), I had to check it out. And there it was: “. . .decorated by Walter Crane.” Walter Crane is one of my favorite illustrators. Right up there with H. R. Millar, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway. . .

A Flower Wedding title page“Decorated by Walter Crane.” A Flower Wedding is Distributed Proofreaders’ 33,000th e-book production. This beautiful little book tells the tale of the wedding of two flowers, their guests and even the feast. It was reprinted in 2014 for the exhibition of Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Young LAD’S LOVE had courted Miss Meadow·Sweet,
And the two soon agreed at the Altar to meet.

The flowers for the most part, scorn the names chosen by the botanists and claim the ones given them by the grandmothers, great-aunts, uncles and other loving gardeners who named them for their shape, beauty, colour and charm.

In Ladysmocks, Bridesmaids, Forget·me·not blue,
With their sashes all tied in Love·knot·true.

The gifts the guests brought would fill a fanciful home with treasures . . . decorated by Walter Crane.

Buttercups gold, and a Pitcher-plant
Nay, everything that a house could want.

The bride and groom ride off in a Venus flytrap with the guests calling after:

“Speedwell, and be happy,” their friends gaily say;

and the party continues.

The Wild-thyme they had, and the fuss that was made
Kept the guests in a rout thro’ the Deadly night shade.

Lavishly decorated by Walter Crane. He was remarkably prolific, painting not only illustrations in many children’s books, but also murals, flyers and posters for the Socialist movement, wallpapers, tiles, pottery. He also taught, and two of his books based on his lecture series, The Bases of Design and Line and Form, can be found on Project Gutenberg as well. He was not above scandal for the time. Firstly, he supported Socialist causes and, speaking of support, whilst Vice President of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, he illustrated a pamphlet, “How to Dress Without a Corset.” He attended a meeting of Boston anarchists and declared that he thought the Haymarket Square Riot convictions were wrong. This cost him a great deal of public support in the United States, including financial support. But it eventually blew over, and his beautiful art continued on. Our lives may be a bit richer, our children’s imaginations a bit fuller, because they were decorated by Walter Crane.

A Flower Wedding final illustration

This post was contributed by a DP volunteer.

Sweet Sixteen

October 1, 2016

coverIt’s time for another Distributed Proofreaders celebration: Our 16th Anniversary!

Last year, we commemorated our 15th Anniversary with a look back at our many accomplishments since DP’s founding on October 1, 2000. Here’s a retrospective on DP’s achievements over the last year.


31,000 titles. In December 2015, DP posted its 31,000th unique title to Project Gutenberg, Colour in the Flower Garden. You can read all about it in this celebratory post.

32,000 titles. Just five months later, in May 2016, DP posted its 32,000th title, Tik-Tok of Oz. See the blog post on this milestone for more on this and other books in the beloved Oz series that DP has contributed to PG.

Significant Projects

The Expositor’s Bible. In December 2015, DP posted the second volume of The Expositor’s Bible: The Book of the Twelve Prophets, a 19th-Century commentary on the Bible by leading British theologians of the day. With 564 pages, 38 chapters, Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic quotations, and 1,556 footnotes, this single volume was a massive project in itself. But its posting marked the completion of a 50-volume set, all produced by DP – an outstanding achievement.

Charles Sumner’s complete works. In January 2016, DP posted the last of 20 volumes of Charles Sumner: His Complete Works, all contributed by DP. Charles Sumner (1811-1874) was an important 19th-Century American senator, abolitionist, and civil rights activist.

Princess Napraxine. Also in January, DP posted the third and final volume of Princess Napraxine, one of the most ambitious novels of the British writer Ouida (pen name of Maria Louise Ramé, 1839-1908). It is the tragic tale of a beautiful, worldly woman, the wealthy man obsessed with her, and the penniless young girl he marries to forget her.

Revolutionary correspondence. In July, DP posted the second volume of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution. This completed a fascinating 12-volume set of letters involving nearly every significant figure in the American Revolution, edited by the noted 19th-Century historian Jared Sparks. DP contributed all 12 volumes.

15th Anniversary Projects

Over the last year, DP volunteers worked on a variety of projects that were selected especially for the 15th Anniversary celebration. Some have something to do with the number 15, others are of particular literary or historical significance. A quick look at these special projects shows the vast range of the books we work on at DP:

Over 2,000 Titles

DP posted a whopping 2,156 titles to PG over the last year.

Updating and Streamlining

As we’ve been churning out books, our volunteers have also been making significant updates to our site, including:

  • a full upgrade of our forum software
  • changes to the remote file manager
  • updates to WordCheck (DP’s spell checker)
  • improvements to the interface for viewing changes (“diffs”) made to the text of a project’s individual pages as it progresses through each round of proofreading or formatting
  • a new welcoming e-mail to new volunteers
  • updated (and much crisper) logos
  • a new Preview feature for formatters, and
  • the establishment of a DP Official Documentation wiki.

Happy Sweet Sixteen to all the DP volunteers who made these achievements possible!


Woman of Independence

July 4, 2016

Celebrations of American Independence generally focus on the men who made it happen. There were those who made it happen on paper, like John Adams, or Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin. And there were those who made it happen on the battlefields, like George Washington, or Nathanael Greene, or Henry Knox. But there were no women in the Continental Congress, and no women in the Continental Army. As with many great historical events, women were, sadly, relegated to the sidelines.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams as a newlywed, 1766

But one woman had an important influence on the great event of American Independence, albeit from the sidelines. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was her husband’s “dearest friend,” the mother of his children, the sounding board for his ideas.

Abigail Adams and Her Times, by Laura E. Richards (1917), is an engaging account, full of fascinating details that bring Colonial times to life. (“Snail-water,” a home remedy of the time for infants, is definitely not to be tried at home, and definitely not on infants.)

But Richards also brings Abigail herself to life. The great frustration of Abigail’s biographers has always been that she never kept a diary. Her youth and the early days of her marriage are not all that well documented. Although John Adams kept a diary, he only occasionally mentioned his wife in it. We learn who she is primarily from the many letters she exchanged with him — but that correspondence didn’t begin in earnest until a decade after their marriage, when he was thoroughly embroiled in the fight for American Independence and was away from home for long periods of time.

Richards deftly mines the letters for clues to Abigail’s character and personality. Abigail frequently signed herself “Portia,” after Shakespeare’s artful heroine. Her support for John’s important work was wholehearted, but she also urged him to consider greater rights for women:

… in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

Alas, Abigail’s hopes were not realized for nearly 150 years, but to John’s news that the Continental Congress had voted in favor of independence, she joyfully wrote:

By yesterday’s post I received two letters dated 3d and 4th of July, and though your letters never fail to give me pleasure, be the subject what it will, yet it was greatly heightened by the prospect of the future happiness and glory of our country. Nor am I a little gratified when I reflect that a person so nearly connected with me has had the honor of being a principal actor in laying a foundation for its future greatness.

May the foundation of our new Constitution be Justice, Truth, Righteousness! Like the wise man’s house, may it be founded upon these rocks, and then neither storm nor tempests will overthrow it!

Abigail remained John’s closest and most trusted adviser throughout the Revolution, during his Presidency, and afterward, while the titans who created the new nation struggled and quarreled over how it should be governed. Their joint epitaph is a fitting tribute to their partnership:

During an union of more than half a century they survived, in harmony of sentiment, principle, and affection, the tempests of civil commotion; meeting undaunted and surmounting the terrors and trials of that revolution, which secured the freedom of their country; improved the condition of their times; and brightened the prospects of futurity to the race of man upon earth.

July 4, 2016, is the 240th anniversary of American Independence.

Celebrating 32,000 Titles

May 28, 2016


Distributed Proofreaders is proud to celebrate its 32,000th title, Tik-Tok of Oz — many thanks to all the volunteers who worked on it!

The Wonderful Volumes of Oz – We’re off to see the Wizard!

Who among us has NOT seen the classic fairy tale The Wizard of Oz on television? Ah, but have you READ the original and the other volumes in the series?? Thanks to Distributed Proofreaders, there is no excuse!!

All of the volumes written by L. (Lyman) Frank Baum have been processed at DP. All are available on Project Gutenberg as text-only versions; but most, like our 32,000th title, have been redone with all of the original illustrations!

L. Frank Baum Oz Book List
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
The Road to Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink in Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz
Glinda of Oz
Little Wizard Stories of Oz

The volume Tik-Tok of Oz is the latest to complete the journey through DP. Many of the characters from previous volumes make a reappearance, including Glinda, the Cowardly Lion, Betsy Bobbin, the Shaggy Man, Hank (the mule), Ozga and Polychrome, Dorothy, and Toto (too!). Tik-Tok, Queen Ann Soforth, Nome King, and Tittiti-Hoochoo are some of the new characters introduced in this volume.

Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo sets out to raise an army to conquer the Nome King. Betsy, Tik-Tok (a mechanical man who is guaranteed to work perfectly for a thousand years), Shaggy Man (with his Love Magnet), and a number of other characters team up with Queen Ann’ s “noble army” and save Oz!

I’ll confess that I have so far read only a few of the Oz tales. So, most of the characters are new to me. This is one of the best reasons to participate in activities such as Distributed Proofreaders—you may discover new treasures which were beloved a hundred years ago and still resonate today.

Although one person takes on the responsibility to transform a text file into a readable text version and an HTML version with coding to produce mobile versions (epub and mobi), each project requires quite a few folks to produce images, and to check the spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Tik-Tok took more than 60 DP volunteers to reach the post-processing stage. See this article for more on the DP process.

Now that I have completed this volume (I’ve read and helped produce the next in the series, The Scarecrow of Oz), I am looking forward to “catching up” on the others! Oh, by the way, did you know ALL of the animals CAN talk in Oz? Read Tik-Tok to hear what Toto has to say!

This post was contributed by Tom Cosmas, a DP volunteer who post-processed this project.

DP Celebrates 31,000 Titles

December 27, 2015


Distributed Proofreaders is proud to celebrate its 31,000th title, Colour in the Flower Garden — many thanks to all the volunteers who worked on it!



Gertrude Jekyll, probably (after Capability Brown) the most famous English garden designer, lived from 1843 to 1932 and created at least 400 major gardens within Europe and North America, often working closely with the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. She set out to develop a career as a painter, but developed an interest in the use of colour in planting, and, possibly prompted by deteriorating eyesight, moved into garden design. She was heavily influenced by Impressionism, eschewing excessive formality in design and planting.

Her book Colour in the Flower Garden sums up the experience of 40 years, using the garden she designed for herself at Munstead Wood. The book describes her philosophy in detail and gives detailed planting schemes for many areas of the garden, but is by no means prescriptive. She describes what she has done and why, and lets the results speak for themselves.

It is also profusely illustrated with, regrettably monochrome, photographs of the garden.

For the gardener, it is a very accessible and interesting record, but from an age and of a scale which make it, perhaps, less than useful.

Two quotations give a flavour of the scale and ambition.

Talking of flower borders: “I believe that the only way in which it can be made successful is to devote certain borders to certain times of year; each border or garden region to be bright for from one to three months.”

And about one area of her garden: “Ten acres is but a small area for a bit of woodland, yet it can be made apparently much larger by well-considered treatment.”

I look out at my own garden (20 x 8 meters) and think, “I grow plants, but this is not, by Jekyll’s standards, a garden.”

This post was contributed by Les Galloway, a DP volunteer who post-processed this project.


Twelve Books of Christmas

December 23, 2015

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Distributed Proofreaders loves to celebrate special days, and holiday-themed projects abound among its contributions to Project Gutenberg, including well over 100 Christmas-related books. These come from just about every genre: Christmas novels, stories, poetry, and plays for all ages; inspirational books and biographies of Jesus; and accounts of Christmas legends and customs throughout the centuries in different parts of the world. Here’s a selection of twelve of these books, in celebration of the twelve days of Christmas.

A Visit from St Nicholas

Lovely Christmas collaborations of famous authors and famous illustrators include Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Walter Crane wrote and provided rich color illustrations in A Winter Nosegay, a delightful little collection of Christmas tales for children. Old Christmas, taken from Washington Irving’s Sketch Book, is filled with entertaining sketches by Randolph Caldecott. And here is the classic poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas — a.k.a. The Night Before Christmas — by Clement Clarke Moore, beautifully illustrated by F.O.C. Darley.

Religious offerings include Ernest Renan’s excellent Vie de Jésus, also available in English as The Life of Jesus. For children, there is The Boyhood of Jesus by an anonymous author. Inspirational thoughts abound in A Christmas Gift, written “to the American Home and the Youth of America” by a Danish Lutheran minister.

For those interested in the history of Christmas, there is The Book of Christmas, by Thomas K. Hervey, which traces the origins of various English Christmas customs back to ancient pagan winter festivals such as the Roman Saturnalia and the Northern European Yule. Or Christmastide, by William Sandys, which includes Christmas carols you can listen to. Christmas customs in different parts of the world are represented by several books, including Yule-Tide in Many Lands by Mary Poague Pringle and Clara A. Urann, and The Christmas Kalends of Provence by Thomas A. Janvier.

Finally, for sly Christmas humor, check out A Christmas Garland, “woven” by Max Beerbohm. This is a 1912 collection of Christmas stories that are actually spot-on parodies of the styles of noted literary figures, including Henry James, H.G. Wells, Thomas Hardy, and G.K. Chesterton.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!

Happy 15th Anniversary! (Part 6)

October 26, 2015
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Semper ad Meliora (Always towards better things)

This is the sixth and last in a series of posts celebrating Distributed Proofreaders’ 15th Anniversary.

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26000 Comic Insects, by F.A.S. Reid (1872), was posted October 1, 2013, as the 26,000th book. This is a collection of amusing poems about insects and features delightful illustrations by Berry F. Berry. The Hot off the Press blog post for this milestone, which coincided with DP’s 13th anniversary, can be found here.

27000 Number 27,000 was the 13-volume Storia della decadenza e rovina dell’impero romano (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), an Italian translation of the classic work by British historian Edward Gibbon, posted March 28, 2014. It was originally published in London in separate volumes between 1776 and 1789. Italian author Davide Bertolotti translated it to Italian, and his version was published in Milan between 1820 and 1824. See the Hot off the Press blog post here.

28000 For a change of pace, The Mystery of Choice, by Robert W. Chambers (1897), was posted as the 28,000th selection on August 16, 2014. This book is a collection of short, related stories with topics ranging from a murder mystery, to the ghost of a dark priest, to the search for dinosaurs — in short, something for everyone. The Hot off the Press blog post about it is here.

29000 Histoire de France (History of France), by Jules Michelet (1867), was posted on January 14, 2015, making it the 29,000th contribution from DP to Project Gutenberg. This 19-volume masterpiece took Michelet 30 years to complete, and it took DP over nine years to transform the complete set into a high-quality set of e-books — a tremendous accomplishment all around. Here is the Hot off the Press blog post celebrating this milestone.

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30000 As you may expect, the 30,000th title was represented not by a single book, but by 30, posted on July 7, 2015. They represent the vast scope of DP volunteers’ work, with books on science, technology, medicine, poetry, archaeology, folklore, literature, drama, history, autobiography, political science, and fiction, both general and juvenile. They include works in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Each of the thirty titles represents countless hours of work by DP’s many volunteers, who performed myriad tasks such as preparing the page scans, setting up the projects, carefully proofing and formatting the texts page-by-page to ensure their high quality, post-processing, smooth-reading, and verifying them — not to mention those who make all that work possible by maintaining and improving DP’s online systems, mentoring, and performing a host of other essential tasks. This Hot off the Press blog post gives the list of books, with links, for this milestone.

PG’s 50,000th title DP had the honor of contributing Project Gutenberg’s 50,000th title just last month, on September 17, 2015. This was, appropriately, John Gutenberg, First Master Printer, His Acts, and most remarkable Discourses, and his Death, by Franz von Dingelstedt. The Hot off the Press blog post celebrating this achievement is here. As part of DP’s 15th Anniversary celebration, a DP volunteer recorded an audiobook of this title for Librivox.

Thanks and congratulations to the entire Distributed Proofreaders community, whose dedication to “preserving history one page at a time” has made this 15th Anniversary celebration possible.

These 15th Anniversary posts were contributed by WebRover, a DP volunteer.

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