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“Every novel published in the United States from 1851 to 1875…including works by well known writers such as Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Nanthaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe” have been added as an ebook to Alloway Library's collection and can be found in our catalogue. The Wright American Fiction 1851-1875 collection of 19th century literature consists of the works of 1,456 authors -- the giants of literature, as well those that were popular in their own time but now forgotten.
Lyle H. Wright was a librarian at the Huntington Library in California. In 1957 he published a bibliography of American fiction covering 25 years, entitled American Fiction 1851-1875: A Contribution Toward a Bibliography. His work listed titles in adult fiction including “novels, novelettes, romances, short stories, tall tales, tract-like tales, allegories, and fictitious biographies and travels, in prose." He compiled his list from the collections of 18 American libraries, Today, it is still considered the most comprehensive bibliography of American adult fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries.” More details on the Wright project here.
American fiction was still in its infancy in the years 1851-1875, but this period saw publication of some of the great authors at the core of American literature. Most of the authors contained in the bibliography are little known, however. This period, a momentous one in American history, provides the foundation of later American literature, and a searchable electronic collection will allow insight into American literature, culture, and history otherwise unattainable.
The online collection actually consists of two rather different groups of texts. The larger is a group of electronic texts created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. These texts are available for searching and browsing, using the digital page images. The text files have not been proofread or corrected, and still contain errors.
Ongoing work is being done to correcting errors and adding SGML encoding for better navigation by identifying chapter or story divisions within each work. Fully edited texts allows readers to view both the electronic text as well as the page images. The entire collection represents over 750,000 pages of published work.