The titles below represent the first collection of short stories published at American Literature.
- The Gift of the Magi (1905) by O. Henry
This tender story is a "must read" and one of the most famous in the short story genre.
- The Little Match Girl (1905) by Hans Christian Andersen
This is a special seasonal selection for The Holiday Season. It's a story to read for perspective, and is also featured in our collection of Christmas Stories
- To Build a Fire (1908) by Jack London
A classic Man versus Nature story set in the Yukon Territory in Northwestern Canada. "The dog did not know anything about thermometers" but it had the sense to know "that it was no time for travelling."
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1890, 1891) by Ambrose Bierce
A short story masterpiece: a suspenseful story about a Civil War soldier who makes a daring escape...
- A Dark Brown Dog (written ~1893, published 1901) by Stephen Crane
Read this story for its powerful emotional content, contemplate social and historical significance afterwards.
- The Monkey's Paw (1902) by W.W. Jacobs
Three wishes and a Monkey's paw. What could go wrong? A horror story in the short story form.
- The Cask of Amontillado (1846) by Edgar Allan Poe
A classic revenge story in the horror genre; Montressor invites his "friend" Fortunato to taste some fine wine.
- Eve's Diary (1906) by Mark Twain
- The Story of an Hour (1894, 1895) by Kate Chopin
This short story takes the reader on an emotional journey and was considered to be rather controversial when it was published. An early entry in feminist literature.
- The Luck of Roaring Camp (1868) by Bret Harte
The hard-luck life of hard-hearted miners changes with the birth of Thomas Luck who draws on the heart strings of the rough and tumble miners of Roaring Camp.
- Regret (1897) by Kate Chopin
A beautiful story hinting at the depths of a woman's emotional complexity. A great short story, one that could easily be misunderstood by modern feminists.
- The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865) by Mark Twain
The famous story of Dan'l Webster the frog, and his anticipated performance in the jumping contest.
- The Skylight Room (1906) by O. Henry
This one was selected for its simple poignancy.
- A Horseman in the Sky (1889) by Ambrose Bierce
Another interesting story from Ambrose Bierce. This one is also set during the American Civil War. I classify this one under man versus himself.
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820) by Washington Irving
One of the early American classics, and don't forget its famous companion Rip Van Winkle
- My Kinsman, Major Molineux (1832), Young Goodman Brown (1835), and The Minister's Black Veil (1836) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
All three of these stories are important and should be read, the first one is my favorite of the three. If you are having trouble understanding the stories, it might be helpful to visit Hawthorne's Home Page
for some background.
- The Cactus (1882) by O. Henry
A classic dose of O. Henry coming straight at you. Short and direct. Communication is important.
- The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe
Me crazy? Not at all. Let me prove my sanity by describing how carefully and ingeniously I murdered my victim!
- Scarlet Stockings (~1869) by Louisa May Alcott
"[Belle Morgan] does and says what she likes, is very blunt and honest, has ideas and principles of her own, goes to parties in high dresses, won't dance round dances, and wears red stockings, though Mrs. Plantagenet says it's fast." Independent, assertive, and clad in scarlet stockings. Lennox is helpless to resist.
- An Angel in Disguise by T.S. Arthur
A sentimental story about love and kindness, "A bond had already corded itself around them both, and love was springing into life."
- Bartleby the Scrivner - by Herman Melville
A widely read story with widely debated interpretations. If you figure it out what it means, please tell me!
- The Purloined Letter (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe
- A Jury of Her Peers (1917) by Susan Glaspell
This short story is based on a murder story that Glaspell covered as a young reporter. It's adapted from her play Trifles
which is a selection on the High School
list. Read the story and please share it if you like it, Glaspell deserves to be more widely known.
- On the Gull's Road (1908) by Willa Cather
A love story complicated by circumstance and protocol.
- The Lottery (1948) by Shirley Jackson
- Thank You, M'am (1958) by Langston Hughes