Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) grew up in Massachusetts, and her upbringing in a poor but happy environment gave her stories a strong autobiographical element. Wholesome without being condescending, her deceptively simple writing style made her works instantly popular, and so they have remained. ‘Little Women’ was her finest work, and was loved for its touching portrayal of American family life.
L. Frank Baum (1856 – 1919) was an American writer and dramatist, who wrote on a part-time basis until he published ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ at the age of 44, at which time he retired to write on a full-time basis. In all he wrote a further thirteen ‘Oz’ books, and these works have been hugely popular ever since.
Susan Coolidge was the pen name of Sarah Chauncy Woolsey (1835-1905), the creator of ‘What Katy Did’ and its four sequels. This ever-popular series was very influential on later books in the same genre.
Eleanor H(odgman) Porter (1868 – 1920) was an American novelist and short-story writer whose children’s story ‘Pollyanna’ became the Harry Potter of its day. Pollyanna’s irrepressible optimism is illustrated by the ‘glad game’, in which she would find the positive in any situation. ‘Glad Clubs’ were formed, and the book was adapted for the theatre, cinema and television.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 -1910) alias Mark Twain, is considered one of America’s greatest ever writers. Not only did he write enormously popular novels, such as ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, but also a series of classic travel books, including ‘Life on the Mississippi’ and ‘The Innocents Abroad’. Probably his finest work is ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, which is rated as one of the finest American novels ever written.
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was an American novelist who, at the height of his fame, was one of the world’s most widely read writers, and could claim to be America’s first popular novelist. Although no longer enjoying the same reputation of past times, his novels, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ and ‘The Deerslayer’ are fine pieces of work.
There are few, if any, classic novelists whose current popularity exceeds that of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). With his novels and short stories of ‘The Jazz Age’, Fitzgerald is considered one of the greatest American novelists of the twentieth century, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ is his masterpiece.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was an American novelist and short-story writer, born in Salem, Massachusetts. His works are based largely on historical events in New England, and ‘The Scarlet Letter’ remains his most popular work.
O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862 – 1910) an America writer who has achieved lasting fame through his short stories. He began writing while in prison after being found guilty of embezzlement, and was a prolific writer until his early death resulting from his heavy drinking. While he has received little praise from the critics, his stories continue to be hugely popular with the readers around the world.