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Library to interface with Project Gutenberg

Project description


This package contains a variety of scripts to make working with the Project Gutenberg body of public domain texts easier.

The functionality provided by this package includes:

  • Downloading texts from Project Gutenberg.

  • Cleaning the texts: removing all the crud, leaving just the text behind.

  • Making meta-data about the texts easily accessible.

The package has been tested with Python 2.6, 2.7 and 3.4


This project is on PyPI, so I’d recommend that you just install everything from there using your favourite Python package manager.

pip install gutenberg

If you want to install from source or modify the package, you’ll need to clone this repository:

git clone

This package depends on Berkeley DB so you’ll need to install that:

sudo apt-get install libdb5.1-dev
export BERKELEYDB_DIR=/usr

Now, you should probably install the dependencies for the package and verify your checkout by running the tests.

cd Gutenberg

virtualenv --no-site-packages virtualenv
source virtualenv/bin/activate
pip install -r requirements.pip

pip install nose


Downloading a text

from gutenberg.acquire import load_etext
from gutenberg.cleanup import strip_headers

text = strip_headers(load_etext(2701)).strip()
print(text)  # prints 'MOBY DICK; OR THE WHALE\n\nBy Herman Melville ...'

Looking up meta-data

Title and author meta-data can queried:

from gutenberg.query import get_etexts
from gutenberg.query import get_metadata

print(get_metadata('title', 2701))  # prints 'Moby Dick; Or, The Whale'
print(get_metadata('author', 2701)) # prints 'Melville, Hermann'

print(get_etexts('title', 'Moby Dick; Or, The Whale'))  # prints (2701, ...)
print(get_etexts('author', 'Melville, Hermann'))        # prints (2701, ...)

Note: The first time that one of the functions from gutenberg.query is called, the library will create a rather large database of meta-data about the Project Gutenberg texts. This one-off process will take quite a while to complete (18 hours on my machine) but once it is done, any subsequent calls to get_etexts or get_metadata will be very fast.


This project deliberately does not include any natural language processing functionality. Consuming and processing the text is the responsibility of the client; this library merely focuses on offering a simple and easy to use interface to the works in the Project Gutenberg corpus. Any linguistic processing can easily be done client-side e.g. using the TextBlob library.

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