Classics That Entered the Public Domain in 2021

Get your 1920s dancing shoes on! On January 1, a batch of classics has entered the public domain. Those who do not know what the public domain means, copyrighted works (books, movies, music, etc.) enter the United States’ public domain after 95 years. This meaning they are freely accessible for the public. 

This also means that there could be different retellings of classic works, tales like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So it will be exciting to see what new creative interpretations people imagine. When they become available, readers will read them for free online on sites, like Project Gutenberg. It may not be on the website right away. Give it some time. It takes a while to transfer to text for online reading.

Here is a list of creative works published/released first in 1925. However, here is a list of some highlights that may catch your eye:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The big headliner of this year is this American classic. This popular and school reading list favorite finally entered the public domain on January 1. Because of this, some fans are calling for a very much needed Muppets version of this story.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

It is a short and challenging but it a good start for readers to make when being introduced to Virginia Woolf’s works and writing style.

In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s first collection of short stories has been described a catalog of suffering. The stories in this collection focus on the themes of alienation, loss, grief, separation…something that may be a particular favorite with readers of literary fiction.

The New Negro edited by Alain Locke

With stunning works by seminal black voices such as Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, and W.E.B. DuBois, Locke has constructed a vivid look at the new negro, the changing African American finding his place in the ever shifting sociocultural landscape that was 1920s America. With poetry, prose, and nonfiction essays, this collection is widely praised for its literary strength as well as its historical coverage of a monumental and fascinating time in the history of America.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

The Secret if Chimneys by Agatha Christie

Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the center of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realize that the simple favor has placed him in serious danger.

As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret. . . . (Credit: William Morrow Paperbacks)

Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

Arrowsmith, the most widely read of Sinclair Lewis’s novels, is the incisive portrait of a man passionately devoted to science. As a bright, curious boy in a small Midwestern town, Martin Arrowsmith spends his free time in old Doc Vickerson’s office avidly devouring medical texts. Destined to become a physician and a researcher, he discovers that societal forces of ignorance, greed, and corruption can be as life-threatening as the plague. (Credit: Signet Classics)

A Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto

A Daughter of the Samurai tells the true story of a samurai’s daughter, brought up in the strict traditions of feudal Japan, who was sent to America to meet her future husband. An engrossing, haunting tale that gives us insight into an almost forgotten age. (Credit: University Press of the Pacific) 

Those Barren Leaves by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley spares no one in his ironic, piercing portrayal of a group gathered in an Italian palace by the socially ambitious and self-professed lover of art, Mrs. Aldwinkle. Here, Mrs. Aldwinkle yearns to recapture the glories of the Italian Renaissance, but her guests ultimately fail to fulfill her naive expectations. (Credit: Dalkey Archive Press)

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love. (Credit: Vintage)


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