Another year, another round of books leaving copyright! Check out the list here.
Most notable (to me) is Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. I wrote an eight-part review series on it a while ago. I’d like to think Ned would be pleased it’s now more widely accessible; hopefully more people will learn from its lessons.
Another one that caught my attention is The Land of Mist by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the last book in his Professor Challenger series—and a most disappointing end, I would add, since it abandons sci-fi for spiritualism, which was Doyle’s fascination in later life. I can’t recommend it, but it’s certainly a memorable read.
Thirdly, Franz Kafka’s The Castle. I regret it’s one of his more famous novels, since it was my least favorite, a book I had to force myself to finish. As it is, I do not know if there was a 1926 English translation, so it may be that only German readers will be able to get it in public domain for a while.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Winnie the Pooh, which headlines most articles about this year’s public domain releases. I suspect Pooh Bear is still a trademarked character …ah yes, it is possible to have trademarked characters within public domain books.
The character of Sherlock Holmes has been interesting in this way. Trademarked for years, he was finally ruled public domain in 2014 (a fact I actually only learned today), yet Doyle’s estate continues to file lawsuits about his portrayals. I have my own thoughts on authors’ estates/legacies, but all I can say is… if you’re a fan fiction author with a view to publish, you’d best err on the side of asking permission. Frankly, I’m just looking forward to next year, which is when The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is due to be public domain the US, and then perhaps I can finally get a nice box set of the collections in individual volumes (a girl can dream).