The Best Short Stories in the English Language

  Best Short Stories Volume 1 Best Short Stories Volume II Best Short Stories Volume III
          Volume I,  Table of Contents             
    Volume II,  Table of Contents       Volume III, Table of Contents Other works by  Hill Ortiz

Have you read the 50 best short stories in the English language?

In January of 1914, at a time when literature was undergoing the transition from the traditional to the modern, The New York Times asked twenty-six of the most highly regarded writers of the day to name the best short in the English language. Many of their selections have maintained consistent fame through time. Others have become hidden gems. All are essential literary experiences that will make you love to read again.

     The respondents include many still-recognized names: Jack London, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Booth Tarkington, Owen Wister and Edna Ferber. All in all, they selected works totalling over 500,000 words, more than 1500 pages.

     Upon coming across this article, I asked myself: Where can I find these? They must be readily accessible. After a lengthy effort compiling the stories, many of which had been optically scanned to create typographical errors, some of which were not available except in print form, I realized how much time I had spent and wished someone had done that for me.

     Now, I have done the work for you: they are collected here for the first time. Available from Rook's Page Publishing, The Best Short Stories in the English Language in three volumes. The Best Short Stories series are available in ebook form and Volume I is available in a soft cover edition. The other two volumes will be available in print form.

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  Volume I contains 15 stories.
 Volume II contains 20 stories.
Volume III contains 16 stories.

Each volume is available in electronic edition for $5.99. Volume I is available as a soft cover edition. It is 514 pages and $20.

Amazon ebooks Volume I, Volume II, Volume III.
Amazon print version, Volume I.
Barnes and Nobles ebook. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III.
Barnes and Noble print version, Volume I.

Other purchase options.

The Year 1914

     The year 1914 may have provided the perfect dividing line in the history of the short story. The revolutions of modernism, surrealism and imagism, which had begun to appear in novels and poetry had, for the most part, yet to infuse the short story. In part this was due to the populist nature of short fiction. It often filled national magazines and was expected to appeal to the masses. Many of the early practitioners of short stories such as Dickens, O. Henry and du Maupassant were creating pieces which were lively, surprising and just plain fun: rousing adventure tales, comic pieces with twists or thrilling horror.

     The seminal works of the modern short story began appearing in 1914. In June, James Joyce published The Dubliners. In November, D.H. Lawrence presented his first collection, The Prussian Officer. Kafka's Metamorphosis appeared in 1915. The first annual anthology dedicated to the form, The Best American Short Stories series would begin in 1915.

     At the same time, the old guard passed on. In 1910 alone, the world lost Tolstoy, Twain and O. Henry.  In 1912, the celebrated mystery writer Jacques Futrelle perished aboard the Titanic. Less than one month before the publication of the New York Times article, the noted (and much anthologized)
story writer Ambrose Bierce disappeared, his fate unknown.

Extra Content Online - A Survey of The Best of O. Henry.

A more limited survey was conducted in the early 1920s asking which is the best O. Henry short story. The results and the top stories are presented here.

Table of Contents.

Table of Contents, Volume I

A Lodging for the Night—A Story of Francis Villon by Robert Louis. Stevenson.
The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Bret Harte.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Pavilion on the Links by Robert Louis. Stevenson
The Maltese Cat by Rudyard Kipling
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
Will o' the Mill by Robert Louis Stevenson
Wolfert Webber; or, Golden Dreams by Washington Irving
The Ring of Thoth by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
The Door in the Wall by H. G. Wells
Gifts of Oblivion by Dorothy Canfield

Table of Contents, Volume II

Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Luck of the Roaring Camp by Bret Harte
The Brushwood Boy by Rudyard Kipling
Doctor Marigold by Charles Dickens
Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
An Unfinished Story by O. Henry
The Claws of the Tiger by Gouverneur Morris IV
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Providence and the Guitar by Robert Louis Stevenson
"Bread Upon the Waters" by Rudyard Kipling
Marjorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Love in a Mist by A. Neil Lyons
His Wife by Stephen French Whitman
Rebecca and Rowena by William Makepeace Thackeray
Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy
The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
A Piece of String by Guy de Maupassant
Cinderella by the Brothers Grimm
The Story of Ruth
"What is the Best Short Story?" The original article as presented in The New York Times

Table of Contents, Volume III

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Haunted and the Haunters; Or, The House and the Brain by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
A Municipal Report by O. Henry
The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale
The Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe
The Cricket on the Hearth, A Fairy Tale of Home by Charles Dickens
The Story of Richard Doubledick by Charles Dickens
The Belled Buzzard by Irvin S. Cobb
An Incident by Sarah Barnwell Elliott
A Journey by Edith Wharton
Beyond the Pale by Rudyard Kipling
Without Benefit of Clergy by Rudyard Kipling
The Stolen Story by Jesse Lynch Williams
The Dead by James Joyce

Brief Biographies of the Selectors and the Selected

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copyright 2014, Martin Hill Ortiz