Readers and writers can sit in a room and discuss the broad range of great books that were written in the 19th century, and this would be a time you wish you were invited to such an engaging discussion. There will be those that agree on one book and those that will think of the same book is not as good as most people think it is. But who brought their best game and why? Here are some of our picks, see if you agree.
He would have to be discussed first within our little meeting room. Everyone would say his name and try to be the first that would recall details about the books that they have read by him. Someone would say, “did you know that he penned under the name of Boz?” just to show off how well they knew about his life. There could never be a discussion about the greatest of writers in any century without the mention of Charles Dickens.
Charles Dickens was an author in the early part of the 19th century that penned well known classic books such as A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield. I
Not only did C. Dickens write, he first gained popularity by creating comics. His first novel was filled with his drawings. It was entitled, The Pickwick Papers.
By mentioning Amy Levy there would be a hush in the room and nods. She was entrenched in the same-sex themes long before her modern counterparts. Before Susan Sontag, or Gloria Steinem, Amy Levy bought to the pen and paper issues of Jewish affluent society and her work about these issues were published in Oscar Wilde’s famous feminist magazine The Woman’s World.
Her works include, A London Plane-Tree, which peeks into her desire for women, and The Romance of a Shop, which shows the collaboration of sisters to have a successful business. Although she is hailed as someone that was before her time and should have been celebrated, she ended her life prematurely at the early age of 27.
This celebrated American poet would garner one of the longest discussions due to his mass collections. Walt Whitman was not only a poet but a masterful one. His book Leaves of Grass was not just a poem but an ongoing one that he changed along the way and release in editions.
While writing poetry, he was a well-known journalist and editor in New York, and he like Dickens also sketched along with his writings. Among his sketches, which depicted the throes of city life, Whitman would draw pics that showed the horrible side of an alcoholic life.
He was assumed by many to be Gay, although he never divulged that he was or not. But critical analyst of his poetry seems to think his words give him away as gay.
Did you know that he was a nurse during the American Civil War? His extensive writings on the conflict that he experienced firsthand gave those back home an eagle eye view of what the newspapers could not have ever given them.
We cannot forget about the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The discussion might include the fact that during the 20th century there was a uproar of those that wanted to place censorship on Twain’s books and felt the N word should be removed from his works. Some would argue, it was how they spoke back then so why take it out? Librarians are big on keeping our freedoms of expression alive.
Twin was an avid civil rights advocate and the tone of his books gives you a look into the heart of the American culture during slavery time. Reading his writing will give you deeper insight into that period.
No one could have put the invasion of Russia by Napoleon in 1812 into words the way Tolstoy did. Even Twain commented on this book saying that the only thing missing was a “boat race”.
The scenes depicted in this book have the highest ranking of scenery in any book ever written. Getting through it is the only complaint that anyone has ever had. It is extremely long with over 1400 pages. There have been those that say it took them 70 years to complete it.
Tolstoy’s characters are also painstakingly created with his deep conviction to detail in his writing and remain the most memorable characters down to this day.
Edgar Allen Poe
Creepy yet magnificent short storytelling, is how we can present Mr. Poe into the discussion. He had a short-lived life, didn’t make much money, and was an alcoholic. However, Edgar Allen Poe wrote some of the most memorable horror in short story style that changed the way we look at this genre.
He may not have made a lot of money, but his horror will continue to go down in history with all of us. Every Halloween we tell the tales of The Fall of the house of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Cask of Amontillado. He was truly the Father of Gothic tales.
He died much like he told his tales, a tragic death that found him beaten in a gutter. One of the biggest influencers of the short story genre, Edgar Allen Poe will always be mentioned in a discussion of who are best writers of the 19th century.