Famous American Authors
18th Century
Date (of
work)
1732-1750
Author
Ben Franklin
1776
Thomas Paine
1788
Alexander Hamilton
James Madison
John Jay
Work
Poor Richard’s
Almanack
Significance
Various thoughts, advice, meteorology
Arguments for Independence; helped
Common Sense
pushed the colonies towards
independence
Arguments for committing to the
The Crisis
Revolution; keeping the cause
Series of essays to argue for
ratification of the Constitution; used
The Federalist Papers
today to assist in interpreting the
Constitution.
The Antebellum Period and the Transcendentalists
The first uniquely American literature that embraced the nationalism of the post War of 1812 Era
James Fenimore
Cooper
The Last of the
Mohicans
The Raven
1851
Edgar Allen Poe
Nathaniel
Hawthorne
Herman Melville
1868
Louisa May Alcott
Little Women
1789-1851
1845
1850
Date (of
work)
Author
The Scarlett Letter
Moby Dick
Work
Influenced popular opinion about
Indians and the frontier. Romanticized
the resourceful frontiersman as well
as the stoic, wise, and noble Indians.
Many antebellum writers wrestled with
the conviction that American
literature and culture were not living
up to their Revolutionary and
democratic promises, and many of these
writers incited and participated in
various efforts at reform. But during
this time, there were also a variety
of notions about what constituted
reform.
Significance
1837
1841
1849
Ralph Waldo
Emerson
Henry David
Thoreau
1854
1855
1865
Walt Whitman
The American Scholar
Various Essays
On the Duty of Civil
Disobedience
Walden: Or Life in
the Woods
Leaves of Grass
O Captain! My
Captain!
Transcendentalism was never really a
formalized movement, but its
principles certainly inspired the
writings of Thoreau, and Whitman,
among others. It emphasized the
creative powers of the individual
mind, the regenerative value of
nature, the limits of historical
associations and traditions, the
stultifying effects of established
institutions, and the mystical glories
of infancy and childhood. Writers such
as Hawthorne and Melville were
influenced by Transcendentalism when
they grappled with the difficulties of
making sense of a universe in which
meaning derives from individual
creative insights rather than received
authority.
The Abolitionists
1831
William Lloyd
Garrison
The Liberator
(newspaper)
1845-1849
Frederick Douglass
The North Star
(newspaper)
1852
Harriet Beecher
Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
White abolitionist; Argued for
immediate emancipation
Escaped slave who became leader of the
abolitionist movement; Argued for an
end to slavery
Widely read and distributed fictional
story about slavery; helped to
convince more northerners of the evils
of slavery.
The Gilded Age
Date (of
work)
Author
1881
Helen Hunt Jackson
1895
Booker T.
Washington
1876
Mark Twain
1884
1890
Alfred T. Mahan
1890
Jacob Riis
1893
Frederick Jackson
Turner
Work
Significance
Cataloged the history of US-Indian
relations and led to a political
A Century of Dishonor
effort by humanitarians seeking more
just policies towards Indian tribes.
Speech in which Washington urged
African-Americans to seek a vocational
The Atlanta
education and not directly challenge
Exposition (speech)
segregation. His theory was challenged
by WEB du Bois.
The Adventures of Tom Twain’s most enduring works—
Sawyer
Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer—sprang from his own
childhood adventures in small town
America. Twain’s writing, often
considered humorous and
The Adventures of
entertaining, was in fact full of
Huckleberry Finn
social criticism. Twain tackled the
big issues of the day, such as racism
and economic injustices, using humor
to get his ideas across.
Argued that naval power was key to
The Influence of Sea
world dominance; Led to the build up
Power upon History
of the US Navy.
Expose of the terrible conditions in
How the Other Half
the cities and slums; helped encourage
Lives
urban reform (common theme in the
Progressive Era)
Major historical theory of the 1890s
The Significance of
that American have been defined by a
the Frontier in
movement to a frontier (written at a
American History
time when the US Census Bureau
(lecture)
declared in 1890 that the frontier was
“closed”)
1893
Date (of
work)
Steven Crane
Author
The Red Badge of
Courage
Work
Epic of the Civil War Era (secondary
source)
Significance
1900
Theodore Dreiser
Sister Carrie
Story of a poor girl working in the
cities (Beginning of the Progressive
Era)
1902
Lincoln Steffens
The Shame of the
Cities (Magazine
Article)
Muckraker who exposed urban problems
like Jacob Riis and other muckrakers
1903
Jack London
The Call of the Wild
Upton Sinclair
The Jungle
1906
Other Muckrakers:
Ida Tarbell
David Phillips
Not Without Laughter
1920s
Langston Hughes
Various Poems
Helped promote a growing conservation
movement later championed by Theodore
Roosevelt
Exposed poor sanitation in the
meatpacking industry and led directly
to food and drug regulation by the
federal government
These muckrakers exposed critical
social and economic problems that led
to direct government intervention and
thus, the Progressive Movement. This
new type of journalism was made
possible by the increasing amount of
magazines and newspapers that resulted
from technological enhances to the
printing press (“yellow journalism”)
Famous writer of the Harlem
Renaissance: a literary and cultural
movement that promoted African
American pride, especially in urban
dwellings.
1920’s Literature and the Great Depression
Date (of
work)
1920
1925
1926
1929
1922
1930
1939
Author
Work
Significance
Sinclair Lewis
William Faulkner
This Side of Paradise
The Great Gatsby
The Sun Also Rises
Farewell to Arms
Babbit
As I Lay Dying
John Steinbeck
Grapes of Wrath
Early 1920s literature often
represented disillusionment with
society as a result of the
psychological shock of World War I.
Some simply assessed the changing
social values of the 1920s through
fictional stories.
Novel about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s
F. Scott
Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway
Post World War II Literature
Date (of
work)
1945
Author
Work
Dr. Benjamin Spock
1949
Arthur Miller
The Common Sense Book
of Baby and Child
Care
Death of a Salesman
1953
1949
George Orwell
1951
J.D. Salinger
1956
William H. Whythe
Jr.
1962
Rachel Carson
1963
Betty Friedan
Significance
An instruction manual for parents;
shaped many of the child-rearing
beliefs of the 1950s.
Tragedy about a man pursuing the
American dream in the 1940s.
The Crucible (Play)
Play about the Salem Witchcraft
Trials, often considered to be written
as an attack on the McCarthy Era.
1984
Though an English author, his book
portrayed a “big brother” government
run society in the year 1984.
The Catcher in the
Portrayed themes of adolescence,
Rye
sexuality and conflicts with the
predominant theme of conformity in the
1950s.
The Organization Man
Very influential book about the
workplace, suburbs and the
relationship to people’s lives.
Silent Spring
Exposed problems of water quality and
contamination by pesticides – led
directly to the environmental movement
of the 1960s-1970s and federal
government regulation and regulatory
agencies (i.e. EPA)
The Feminine Mystique Led directly to the modern feminist
movement of the 1960s-1970s.
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Major American Authors - Marlington Local Schools