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American literature

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American literature is poetry, fiction, drama, or essays written by Americans. It also includes literature written by people living in the United States (who are not American citizens).

19th Century

The 19th century was a fertile era for the American novel and American poetry.[1] The most popular American novelists of the 19th Century were women.[1] Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin about slavery in America. Luisa May Alcott wrote the popular novel Little Women about the dreams and hardships of sisters growing up in rural America.

Herman Melville wrote the famous novel Moby Dick, about a whaling in America. Moby Dick is often called the greatest American novels.[2] Emily Dickinson is one of the greatest American poets. Dickinson wrote many lyrical, religious, philosophical poems.[3] Walt Whitman wrote the epic poem Leaves of Grass.[4][5] Masterpieces of Gothic fiction include Nathaniel Hawthorn's Fall of the House of Usher and The Scarlet Letter). Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" is also Gothic fiction. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau wrote philosophical essays. Their philosophical school of thought is called Transcendentalism.

20th Century

The 20th Century is often called The American Century in art. Novelists of the modern era include William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, and Pearl Buck.

Toni Morrison, Eugene O'Neill, Saul Bellow, Joseph Brodsky and Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

21st Century

Contemporary fiction writers of include Don Delillo, Paul Auster, Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, Giannina Braschi, David Foster Wallace, and Jonathan Frazen. These writers are often called Postmodern authors.

There are many popular literary genres. Humorist David Sedaris writes funny short stories about his personal life and odd things about strangers. Shel Silverstein and Dr.Seuss wrote rhyming poems for children’s books. Judy Bloom writes emotional stories about young girls for young readers. R.L.Stine writes scary stories (Goosebump Series) about monsters and ghosts for boys and girls. Stephen King writes horror novels for adults about murder, monsters, and kidnapping.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "19th-Century Novels" (in en-US). 
  2. McCrum, Robert (2014-01-13). "The 100 best novels: No 17 – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077 . Retrieved 2020-09-17. 
  3. Poets, Academy of American. "About Emily Dickinson | Academy of American Poets". 
  4. "The poets of the nineteenth century.". 
  5. Poets, Academy of American. "About Walt Whitman | Academy of American Poets".