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A short story is a work of fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 that is usually written in prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

, often in narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

s (in the 20th and 21st century sense) and novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because of the fragmentation of the medium into genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s. Since the short story format includes a wide range of genres and styles, the actual length is determined by the individual author's preference (or the story's actual needs in terms of creative trajectory or story arc
Story arc
A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television, comic books, comic strips, boardgames, video games, and in some cases, films. On a television program, for example, the story would unfold over many episodes. In television, the use of the story...

) and the submission guidelines relevant to the story's actual market. Guidelines vary greatly among publishers.

Many short story writers define their work through a combination of creative, personal expression, and artistic integrity. They attempt to resist categorization by genre as well as definition by numbers, finding such approaches limiting and counter-intuitive to artistic form and reasoning. As a result, definitions of the short story based on length splinter even more when the writing process
Writing process
The Writing process is both a key concept in the teaching of writing and an important research concept in the field of composition studies.Research on the writing process focuses on how writers draft, revise, and edit texts...

 is taken into consideration.

Overview


Authors such as Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

, Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

, Bolesław Prus, Dino Buzzati
Dino Buzzati
Dino Buzzati-Traverso was an Italian novelist, short story writer, painter and poet, as well as a journalist for Corriere della Sera. His worldwide fame is mostly due to his novel Il deserto dei Tartari, translated into English as The Tartar Steppe.-Life:Buzzati was born at San Pellegrino,...

, Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

, William Faulkner
William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career...

, F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

, James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

, Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

, P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...

, H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

,Jonan Michael Soriano and Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 were highly accomplished writers of both short stories and novels.

Short stories have their face in oral story-telling traditions and the prose anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

, a swiftly sketched situation that quickly comes to its point. With the rise of the comparatively realistic
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 novel, the short story evolved as a miniature version, with some of its first perfectly independent examples in the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann. Other 19th-century writers well known for their short stories include Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism...

, Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents....

, and Bolesław Prus.

Some authors are known almost entirely for their short stories, either by choice (they wrote nothing else) or by critical regard (short-story writing is thought of as a challenging art). An example is Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

, who won American fame with "The Garden of Forking Paths
The Garden of Forking Paths
"The Garden of Forking Paths" is a 1941 short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It is the title story in the collection El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan , which was republished in its entirety in Ficciones in 1944...

", published in the August 1948 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine is an American monthly digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction...

. Another example is O. Henry
O. Henry
O. Henry was the pen name of the American writer William Sydney Porter . O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings.-Early life:...

 (author of "Gift of the Magi"), for whom the O. Henry Award
O. Henry Award
The O. Henry Award is the only yearly award given to short stories of exceptional merit. The award is named after the American master of the form, O. Henry....

 is named. American examples include Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries...

, John Cheever
John Cheever
John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy,...

, and Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver
Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr. was an American short story writer and poet. Carver is considered a major American writer of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s....

.

Short stories have often been adapted for half-hour and hour radio dramas, as on NBC Presents: Short Story
NBC Presents: Short Story
NBC Presents: Short Story was a half-hour program offering dramatizations of contemporary American short stories by famed writers such as William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Shirley Jackson....

 (1951–52).

The art of storytelling is doubtlessly older than record of civilization. Even the so-called modern short story, which was the latest of the major literary types to evolve, has an ancient lineage. Perhaps the oldest and most direct ancestor of the short story is the anecdote and illustrative story, straight to the point.

The ancient parable and fable, starkly brief narrative used to enforce some moral or spiritual truth, anticipate the severe brevity and unity of some short stories written today.

Short stories tend to be less complex than novels. Usually a short story focuses on one incident; has a single plot, a single setting, and a small number of characters; and covers a short period of time.

In longer forms of fiction, stories tend to contain certain core elements of dramatic structure
Dramatic structure
Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with Aristotle in his Poetics...

: exposition (the introduction of setting, situation and main characters); complication (the event that introduces the conflict); rising action, crisis (the decisive moment for the protagonist and his commitment to a course of action); climax (the point of highest interest in terms of the conflict and the point with the most action); resolution (the point when the conflict is resolved); and moral.

Because of their length, short stories may or may not follow this pattern. Some do not follow patterns at all. For example, modern short stories only occasionally have an exposition. More typical, though, is an abrupt beginning, with the story starting in the middle of the action (in medias res
In medias res
In medias res or medias in res is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase...

). As with longer stories, plots of short stories also have a climax, crisis, or turning point. However, the endings of many short stories are abrupt and open and may or may not have a moral or practical lesson. As with any art forms, the exact characteristics of a short story will vary by creator.

When short stories intend to convey a specific ethical or moral perspective, they fall into a more specific sub-category called Parables (or Fables). This specific kind of short story has been used by spiritual and religious leaders worldwide to inspire, enlighten, and educate their followers.

Length


See the article novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

 for related debate about length.

Determining what exactly separates a short story from longer fictional formats is problematic. A classic definition of a short story is that one should be able to read it in one sitting, a point most notably made in Edgar Allan Poe's essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 "The Philosophy of Composition
The Philosophy of Composition
"The Philosophy of Composition" is an 1846 essay written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe that elucidates a theory about how good writers write when they write well. He concludes that length, "unity of effect" and a logical method are important considerations for good writing. He also makes the...

" (1846). Interesting to note that the idea of "one sitting", may no longer mean the same time period, in modern, faster-paced times. Other definitions place the maximum word count of the short story at anywhere from 1,000 to 9,000 words. In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no longer than 20,000 words and no shorter than 1,000. Stories of less than 1,000 words are sometimes referred to as "short short stories", or "flash fiction
Flash fiction
Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category...

."

As a point of reference for the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 genre writer, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, or SFWA is a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers. It was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight under the name Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. and it retains the acronym SFWA after a very brief use of the SFFWA...

 define short story length Nebula Award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

s for science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 submission guidelines as having a word count
Word count
The word count is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Word counting may be needed when a text is required to stay within certain numbers of words. This may particularly be the case in academia, legal proceedings, journalism and advertising. Word count is commonly used by...

 of less than 7,500.

Predecessors


Short stories date back to oral story-telling traditions which originally produced epics such as Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 and Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

. Oral narratives were often told in the form of rhyming or rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

ic verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

, often including recurring sections or, in the case of Homer, Homeric epithets. Such stylistic devices often acted as mnemonic
Mnemonic
A mnemonic , or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. Commonly encountered mnemonics are often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something,...

s for easier recall, rendition and adaptation of the story. Short sections of verse might focus on individual narratives that could be told at one sitting. The overall arc of the tale
Tale
Tale may refer to:*Cautionary tale, a traditional story told in folklore, to warn its hearer of a danger*Fairy tale, a fictional story that usually features folkloric characters and enchantments*Folk tale, a story passed-down within a particular population, which comprises the traditions of that...

 would emerge only through the telling of multiple such sections.

Fables, succinct tales with an explicit "moral," were said by the Greek historian Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 to have been invented in the 6th century BCE by a Greek slave named Aesop
Aesop
Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...

, though other times and nationalities have also been given for him. These ancient fables are today known as Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today...

.

The other ancient form of short story, the anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

, was popular under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Anecdotes functioned as a sort of parable
Parable
A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or a normative principle. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human...

, a brief realistic narrative that embodies a point. Many surviving Roman anecdotes were collected in the 13th or 14th century as the Gesta Romanorum
Gesta Romanorum
Gesta Romanorum, a Latin collection of anecdotes and tales, was probably compiled about the end of the 13th century or the beginning of the 14th...

. Anecdotes remained popular in Europe well into the 18th century, when the fictional anecdotal letters of Sir Roger de Coverley
Roger de Coverley
Roger de Coverley is the name of an English country dance and a Scottish country dance . An early version was published in The Dancing Master, 9th edition . The Virginia Reel is probably related to it...

 were published.

In Europe, the oral story-telling tradition began to develop into written stories in the early 14th century, most notably with Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

's Canterbury Tales and Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...

's Decameron. Both of these books are composed of individual short stories (which range from farce or humorous anecdotes to well-crafted literary fictions) set within a larger narrative story (a frame story
Frame story
A frame story is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories...

), although the frame tale device was not adopted by all writers. At the end of the 16th century, some of the most popular short stories in Europe were the darkly tragic "novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

" of Matteo Bandello
Matteo Bandello
-Biography:Matteo Bandello was born at Castelnuovo Scrivia, near Tortona , c. 1480 or 1485. He received a good education, and entered the church, but does not seem to have been very interested in theology. For many years he lived at Mantua, and superintended the education of the celebrated Lucrezia...

 (especially in their French translation).

The mid 17th century in France saw the development of a refined short novel, the "nouvelle", by such authors as Madame de Lafayette. In the 1690s, traditional fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

s began to be published (one of the most famous collections was by Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault was a French author who laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from pre-existing folk tales. The best known include Le Petit Chaperon rouge , Cendrillon , Le Chat Botté and La Barbe bleue...

). The appearance of Antoine Galland
Antoine Galland
Antoine Galland was a French orientalist and archaeologist, most famous as the first European translator of The Thousand and One Nights...

's first modern translation of the Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights) (from 1704; another translation appeared in 1710–12) would have an enormous influence on the 18th century European short stories of Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, Diderot and others.

1790-1850


There are early examples of short stories published separately between 1790 and 1810, but the first true collections of short stories appeared between 1810 and 1830 in several countries around the same period.

The first short stories in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 were gothic tales
Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story"...

 like Richard Cumberland
Richard Cumberland
Richard Cumberland may refer to:* Richard Cumberland , bishop, philosopher* Richard Cumberland , civil servant, dramatist...

's "remarkable narrative" "The Poisoner of Montremos" (1791). Great novelists like Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

 and Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 also wrote some short stories.

One of the earliest short stories in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was Charles Brockden Brown
Charles Brockden Brown
Charles Brockden Brown , an American novelist, historian, and editor of the Early National period, is generally regarded by scholars as the most ambitious and accomplished US novelist before James Fenimore Cooper...

's "Somnambulism" from 1805. Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 wrote mysterious tales including "Rip van Winkle
Rip Van Winkle
"Rip Van Winkle" is a short story by the American author Washington Irving published in 1819, as well as the name of the story's fictional protagonist. Written while Irving was living in Birmingham, England, it was part of a collection entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon...

" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while he was living in Birmingham, England, and first published in 1820...

" (1820). Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

 published the first part of his Twice-Told Tales
Twice-Told Tales
Twice-Told Tales is a short story collection in two volumes by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first was published in the spring of 1837, and the second in 1842...

 in 1837. Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

 wrote his tales of mystery and imagination between 1842 and 1859. Classic stories are "The Fall of the House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher
"The Fall of the House of Usher" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in September 1839 in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. It was slightly revised in 1840 for the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque...

", "The Tell-Tale Heart
The Tell-Tale Heart
"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe first published in 1843. It follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a "vulture eye". The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by dismembering it and hiding it under the...

", "The Cask of Amontillado
The Cask of Amontillado
"The Cask of Amontillado" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book....

", "The Pit and the Pendulum
The Pit and the Pendulum
"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842 in the literary annual The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The...

", and the first detective story
Detective fiction
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator , either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder.-In ancient literature:...

, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in Graham's Magazine in 1841. It has been claimed as the first detective story; Poe referred to it as one of his "tales of ratiocination". Two works that share some similarities predate Poe's stories, including Das...

". In "The Philosophy of Composition
The Philosophy of Composition
"The Philosophy of Composition" is an 1846 essay written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe that elucidates a theory about how good writers write when they write well. He concludes that length, "unity of effect" and a logical method are important considerations for good writing. He also makes the...

" (1846) Poe argued that a literary work should be short enough for a reader to finish in one sitting.

In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 the first collection of short stories was by Heinrich von Kleist
Heinrich von Kleist
Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist was a poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. The Kleist Prize, a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him.- Life :...

 in 1810 and '11. The Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

 published their first volume of collected fairy tales in 1812. E. T. A. Hoffmann followed with his own original fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 tales, of which "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is a story written in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann in which young Marie Stahlbaum's favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls...

" (1816) is the most famous.

In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet's opera Carmen.-Life:...

 wrote Mateo Falcone in 1829.

In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 Alexander Pushkin wrote romantic and mysterious tales, including "The Blizzard
The Blizzard
"The Blizzard" is the second of five short stories that constitute The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin by Aleksandr Pushkin, and was later made into a film by director Vladimir Basov...

" (1831) and "The Queen of Spades
The Queen of Spades (story)
"The Queen of Spades" is a short story by Alexander Pushkin about human avarice. Pushkin wrote the story in autumn 1833 in Boldino and it was first published in the literary magazine Biblioteka dlya chteniya in March 1834...

" (1834). Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism...

's "Nevsky Prospekt
Nevsky Prospekt (story)
Nevsky Prospect is a short story by Nikolai Gogol, written between 1831 and 1834, and published in 1835.- Summary :Influenced strongly by the Sentimental movement, the protagonist of "Nevsky Prospekt" is a pathetic and insignificant romantic, the narrator is chatty and unreliable, and realism...

" (1835), "The Nose" (1836) and "The Overcoat
The Overcoat
"The Overcoat" is the title of a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, thus spawning Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous quote: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been...

" (1842) are dark humorous tales about human misery.

1850-1900


In the latter 19th century, the growth of print magazines and journals created a strong demand for short fiction of between 3,000 and 15,000 words.

In the United Kingdom Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

 wrote dozens of short stories, including "The Three Strangers
The Three Strangers
-Plot Summary:A party of nineteen people is assembled in Higher Crowstairs, a shepherd's cottage near Casterbridge. A stranger joins them to seek shelter for the rough weather. A second stranger comes in, and sings a song that reveals he's a hangman. A third strangers enters briefly, but then...

" (1883), "A Mere Interlude
A Mere Interlude
A Mere Interlude is a short story by Thomas Hardy. It was first published in The Bolton Weekly Journal in October 1885.-Plot Summary:Baptista Trewthen is the daughter of a small farmer in St Maria's, one of the Isles of Lyonesse. She works as a schoolmistress in a village near Tor-upon-Sea...

" (1885) and "Barbara of the House of Grebe
Barbara of the House of Grebe
Barbara of the House of Grebe is the second of ten short stories in Thomas Hardy's frame narrative A Group of Noble Dames. It is told by the old surgeon...

" (1890). Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

 published short story collections for grown-ups, e.g. Plain Tales from the Hills
Plain Tales from the Hills
Plain Tales from the Hills is the first collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling. Out of its 40 stories, "eight-and-twenty", according to Kipling's Preface, were initially published in the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore, Punjab, British India, between November 1886 and June 1887...

 (1888), as well as for children, e.g. The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book is a collection of stories by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–4. The original publications contain illustrations, some by Rudyard's father, John Lockwood Kipling. Kipling was born in India and spent the first six...

 (1894). In 1892 Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

 brought the detective story
Detective fiction
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator , either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder.-In ancient literature:...

 to a new height with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective and illustrated by Sidney Paget....

. H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 wrote his first science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 stories in the 1880s. One of his best known "The Country of the Blind
The Country of the Blind
"The Country of the Blind" is a short story written by H. G. Wells. It was first published in the April 1904 issue of the Strand Magazine and included in a 1911 collection of Wells's short stories, The Country of the Blind and Other Stories...

" (1904).

In the United States Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

 published his story collection The Piazza Tales
The Piazza Tales
The Piazza Tales is a collection of short stories by Herman Melville, which he published with Dix & Edwards in 1856 in the United States. A British edition followed shortly afterward. Except for the title story, "The Piazza," all of the stories had appeared in Putnam's Monthly over the years...

 in 1856. "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is an 1865 short story by Mark Twain, his first great success as a writer, bringing him national attention. The story has also been published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" and "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"...

" was the title story of Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

's first book one year later. In 1884, Brander Matthews
Brander Matthews
James Brander Matthews , was a U.S. writer and educator. Matthews was the first U.S. professor of dramatic literature.-Biography:...

, the first American professor of dramatic literature, published The Philosophy of the Short-Story. At that same year, Matthews was the first one to name the emerging genre "short story". Another theorist of narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 was Henry James
Henry James
Henry James, OM was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a clergyman, and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James....

. James wrote a lot of short stories himself, including "The Real Thing
The Real Thing (story)
"The Real Thing" is a short story by Henry James, first syndicated by S. S. McClure in multiple American newspapers and then published in the British publication Black and White in April 1892 and the following year as the title story in the collection, The Real Thing and Other Stories published by...

" (1892), "Maud-Evelyn" and The Beast in the Jungle
The Beast in the Jungle
The Beast in the Jungle is a 1903 novella by Henry James, first published as part of the collection, The Better Sort. Almost universally considered one of James' finest short narratives, this story treats appropriately universal themes: loneliness, fate, love and death...

 (1903). In the 1890s Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin, born Katherine O'Flaherty , was an American author of short stories and novels. She is now considered by some to have been a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century....

 published short stories in several magazines.

The most prolific French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 author of short stories was Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents....

. Stories like "Boule de Suif
Boule de Suif
Boule de Suif is a short story by the late-19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant. It is arguably his most famous short story, and is the title story for his collection on the Franco-Prussian War, entitled "Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre"...

" ("Ball of Fat", 1880) and "L'Inutile Beauté" ("The Useless Beauty", 1890) are good examples of French realism
Literary realism
Literary realism most often refers to the trend, beginning with certain works of nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors in various countries, towards depictions of contemporary life and society "as they were." In the spirit of...

.

In Russia Ivan Turgenev
Ivan Turgenev
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century...

 gained recognition with his story collection A Sportsman's Sketches
A Sportsman's Sketches
A Sportsman's Sketches was an 1852 collection of short stories by Ivan Turgenev. It was the first major writing that gained him recognition...

. Nikolai Leskov
Nikolai Leskov
Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov was a Russian journalist, novelist and short story writer, who also wrote under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky. Praised for his unique writing style and innovative experiments in form, held in high esteem by Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky among others, Leskov is...

 created his first short stories in the 1860s. Late in his life Fyodor Dostoyevski wrote "The Meek One
A Gentle Creature
"A Gentle Creature" , sometimes also translated as "The Meek One", is a short story written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1876. The piece comes with the subtitle of "A Fantastic Story", and it chronicles the relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. The story was inspired by...

" (1876) and "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man
The Dream of a Ridiculous Man
"The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky written in 1877. It chronicles the experiences of a man who decides that there is nothing to live for in the world, and is therefore determined to commit suicide...

" (1877), two stories with great psychological and philosophical depth. Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

 handled ethical questions in his short stories, for example in "Ivan the Fool
Ivan the Fool (story)
Ivan the Fool is an 1886 short story by Leo Tolstoy, published in 1886.Its plot is about the struggles of three brothers and a sister with the Old Devil...

" (1885), "How Much Land Does a Man Need?
How Much Land Does a Man Need?
How Much Land Does a Man Require? is an 1886 short story by Leo Tolstoy about a man who, in his lust for land, forfeits everything.-Synopsis:...

" (1886) and "Alyosha the Pot
Alyosha the Pot
Alyosha the Pot is a short story by Leo Tolstoy . D. S. Mirsky considered it "a masterpiece of rare perfection."-Synopsis:Alyosha, a young child who lives in a village and obtained the nickname "the Pot" from an incident where he broke a pot in his youth, is sent to live with a merchant's family...

" (1905). The greatest specialist of the Russian short story however was Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

. Classic examples of his realistic prose are "The Bet" (1889), "Ward No. 6" (1892), and "The Lady with the Dog" (1899). Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

's best known short story is "Twenty-six Men and a Girl
Twenty-six Men and a Girl
"Twenty-six Men and a Girl" is a short story written by the Russian writer Maxim Gorky in 1899, and is one of his most famous.It is a pioneering story of Social Realism , and is a story of lost ideals. Twenty-six men labor in a cellar, making kringles in an effective prison, looked down on by all...

" (1899).

In Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 Bolesław Prus was the most important author of short stories. In 1888 he wrote "A Legend of Old Egypt
A Legend of Old Egypt
"A Legend of Old Egypt" is a short story by Bolesław Prus, originally published January 1, 1888, in New Year's supplements to the Warsaw Kurier Codzienny and Tygodnik Ilustrowany...

".

1900-1945


In the United Kingdom periodicals like The Strand Magazine, The Sketch
The Sketch
The Sketch was a British illustrated newspaper weekly, which focused on high society and the aristocracy. It ran for 2,989 issues between February 1, 1893 and June 17, 1959. It was published by the Illustrated London News Company and was primarily a society magazine with regular features on royalty...

, Harper's Magazine
Harper's Magazine
Harper's Magazine is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, with a generally left-wing perspective. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. . The current editor is Ellen Rosenbush, who replaced Roger Hodge in January 2010...

 and Story-Teller
Story-Teller
Story-Teller was a monthly British pulp fiction magazine from 1907 to 1937. It is notable for having first published some of the works of Katherine Mansfield, G. K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, H. G...

 contributed to the popularity of the short story. Hector Hugh Munro (1870 – 1916), also known by his pen name of Saki
Saki
Hector Hugh Munro , better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy...

, wrote satirical
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 short stories about Edwardian England. W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham
William Somerset Maugham , CH was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and, reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s.-Childhood and education:...

, who wrote over a hundred short stories, was one of the most popular authors of his time. P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...

 published his first collection of comical stories about butler Jeeves
Jeeves
Reginald Jeeves is a fictional character in the short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse, being the valet of Bertie Wooster . Created in 1915, Jeeves would continue to appear in Wodehouse's works until his final, completed, novel Aunts Aren't Gentlemen in 1974, making him Wodehouse's most famous...

 in 1917. Lots of detective stories
Detective fiction
Detective fiction is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an investigator , either professional or amateur, investigates a crime, often murder.-In ancient literature:...

 were written by G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

, Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie DBE was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections , and her successful West End plays.According to...

 en Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She was also a student of classical and modern languages...

. Short stories by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

 are Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens (short story)
Kew Gardens is a short story by the English author Virginia Woolf.It was first published privately in 1919, then more widely in 1921 in the collection Monday or Tuesday, and subsequently in the posthumous collection A Haunted House...

 (1919) and Solid Objects, about a politician with mental problems. Graham Greene
Graham Greene
Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English author, playwright and literary critic. His works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world...

 wrote his Twenty-One Stories
Twenty-One Stories
Twenty-One Stories is a collection of short stories by Graham Greene. All but the last four stories appeared in his earlier 1947 collection Nineteen Stories -Stories:...

 between 1929 and 1954. A specialist of the short story was V. S. Pritchett
V. S. Pritchett
Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett CH CBE , was a British writer and critic. He was particularly known for his short stories, collected in a number of volumes...

, whose first collection appeared in 1932. Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

 published his first science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 story, Travel by Wire! in 1937.

In Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 published his short story collection Dubliners
Dubliners
Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century....

 in 1914. These stories, written in a more accessible style than his later novels, are based on careful observation of the inhabitants of his birth city.

In the first half of the 20th century, a number of high-profile American magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

 Scribner's
Scribner's Magazine
Scribner's Magazine was an American periodical published by the publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons from January 1887 to May 1939. Scribner's Magazine was the second magazine out of the "Scribner's" firm, after the publication of Scribner's Monthly...

, The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.-History:...

, Esquire
Esquire (magazine)
Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...

 and The Bookman
The Bookman (New York)
The Bookman was a literary journal established in 1895 by Dodd, Mead and Company. It drew its name from the phrase, "I am a Bookman," by James Russell Lowell; the phrase regularly appeared on the cover and title page of the bound edition. It was purchased in 1918 by the George H. Doran Company. In...

 published short stories in each issue. The demand for quality short stories was so great and the money paid for such so well that F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

 repeatedly turned to short-story (as Matthews preferred to write it) writing to pay his numerous debts. His first collection Flappers and Philosophers
Flappers and Philosophers
Flappers and Philosophers was the first collection of short stories written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1920. It includes eight stories:* "The Offshore Pirate"* "The Ice Palace"* "Head and Shoulders"* "The Cut-Glass Bowl"...

 appeared in book form 1920. William Faulkner
William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career...

 wrote over one hundred short stories. Go Down, Moses
Go Down, Moses
Go Down, Moses is a collection of seven related pieces of short fiction by American author William Faulkner, sometimes considered a novel...

, a collection of seven stories, appeared in 1941. Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

's concise writing style was perfectly fit for shorter fiction. Stories like A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is a short story by American author Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1926. It was later included in his 1933 collection, Winner Take Nothing.- Plot synopsis:...

 (1926), Hills Like White Elephants
Hills Like White Elephants
"Hills Like White Elephants" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in the 1927 collection Men Without Women.-Plot summary:...

 (1927) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in Esquire magazine in 1936. It was republished in The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories in 1938, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories in 1961, and is included in The Complete Short Stories of...

 (1936) are only a few pages long, but carefully crafted. Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles....

's bittersweet story Big Blonde saw the light in 1929. A popular science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 story is Nightfall by Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

.

Katherine Mansfield
Katherine Mansfield
Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp Murry was a prominent modernist writer of short fiction who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield left for Great Britain in 1908 where she encountered Modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and...

 from New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 wrote a lot of short stories beween 1912 and her death in 1923. The Doll's House
The Doll's House (short story)
The Doll's House is a 1922 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in The Nation and Atheneum on 4 February 1922, and later appeared in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories...

 (1922) treats the topic of social inequity.

Two important authors of short stories in the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 were Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

 and Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

. In 1922 the latter wrote A Hunger Artist
A Hunger Artist
"A Hunger Artist" , also translated as "A Fasting Artist" and "A Starvation Artist", is a short story by Franz Kafka published in Die Neue Rundschau in 1922. The story was also included in the collection A Hunger Artist published by Verlag Die Schmiede soon after Kafka's death...

, about a man who fasts
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 for several days.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Ryunosuke Akutagawa
was a Japanese writer active in the Taishō period in Japan. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story". He committed suicide at age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.-Early life:...

 (1892-1927) is called the Father of the Japanese
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 short story.

After 1945


The period following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 saw a great flowering of literary short fiction in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

 continued to publish the works of the form’s leading mid-century practitioners, including Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson was an American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years...

, whose story, The Lottery
The Lottery
"The Lottery" is a short story by Shirley Jackson, first published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. Written the same month it was published, it is ranked today as "one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature"....

, published in 1948, elicited the strongest response in the magazine’s history to that time. Other frequent contributors during the last 1940s included John Cheever
John Cheever
John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy,...

, John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men...

, Jean Stafford
Jean Stafford
Jean Stafford was an American short story writer and novelist, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford in 1970....

, and Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty
Eudora Alice Welty was an American author of short stories and novels about the American South. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. She was the first living author to have her works published...

. J. D. Salinger
J. D. Salinger
Jerome David Salinger was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980....

's Nine Stories (1953) experimented with point of view and voice, while Flannery O’Connor's story A Good Man is Hard to Find
A Good Man Is Hard To Find
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by American author Flannery O'Connor. The collection was first published in 1955...

 (1955) reinvigorated the Southern Gothic style. Cultural and social identity played a considerable role in much of the short fiction of the 1960s. Philip Roth
Philip Roth
Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

 and Grace Paley
Grace Paley
Grace Paley was an American-Jewish short story writer, poet, and political activist.-Biography:Grace Paley was born in the Bronx to Isaac and Manya Ridnyik Goodside, who anglicized the family name from Gutseit on immigrating from Ukraine. Her father was a doctor. The family spoke Russian and...

 cultivated distinctive Jewish-American voices. Tillie Olsen
Tillie Olsen
Tillie Lerner Olsen was an American writer associated with the political turmoil of the 1930s and the first generation of American feminists.-Biography:...

’s I Stand Here Ironing
I Stand Here Ironing
"I Stand Here Ironing" is a short story by Tillie Olsen. It was published in her short story collection Tell Me a Riddle in 1961.-Plot introduction:Point of view:...

 (1961) adopted a consciously feminist perspective. James Baldwin
James Baldwin (writer)
James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

’s collection Going to Meet the Man
Going to Meet the Man
Going to Meet the Man, published in 1965, is a short-story collection by American writer James Baldwin. The book is dedicated "for Beauford Delaney." It covers many topics related to anti-Black racism in American society, as well as the creative process, jazz, drug addiction, family relationships,...

 (1965) told stories of African-American life. Frank O’Connor’s The Lonely Voice
The Lonely Voice
The Lonely Voice is a study of the short story form, written by Frank O'Connor.Within the study, O'Connor expounds on some of his own major theories of the short story, as well as discussing the work of many influential short story writers....

, an exploration of the short story, appeared in 1963. Wallace Stegner
Wallace Stegner
Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist, often called "The Dean of Western Writers"...

's short stories are primarily set in the American West. Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 published a lot of short stories in men's magazines in the 1960s and after. The 1970s saw the rise of the post-modern short story in the works of Donald Barthelme
Donald Barthelme
Donald Barthelme was an American author known for his playful, postmodernist style of short fiction. Barthelme also worked as a newspaper reporter for the Houston Post, managing editor of Location magazine, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston , co-founder of Fiction Donald...

 and John Barth
John Barth
John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.-Life:...

. Traditionalists including John Updike
John Updike
John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic....

 and Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates is an American author. Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over fifty novels, as well as many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction...

 maintained significant influence on the form. Minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 gained widespread influence in the 1980s, most notably in the work of Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver
Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr. was an American short story writer and poet. Carver is considered a major American writer of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s....

 and Ann Beattie
Ann Beattie
Ann Beattie is an American short story writer and novelist. She has received an award for excellence from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. Her work has been compared to that of Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger,...

.

In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

 published Mosby's Memoirs in 1968, a story about an old intellectual. Alice Munro
Alice Munro
Alice Ann Munro is a Canadian short-story writer, the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work, a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction, and a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize...

, who is nicknamed the Canadian Chekhov
Chekhov
- People :* Alexander Chekhov, older brother of Anton Chekhov* Anton Chekhov , Russian writer** Chekhov Gymnasium, school, and now museum in Taganrog** Chekhov Library, public library in Taganrog** Anton Chekhov class motorship...

, started publishing in the same year.

In the United Kingdom Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier
Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning DBE was a British author and playwright.Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca and Jamaica Inn and the short stories "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now". The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock.Her elder sister was...

 wrote suspense
Suspense
Suspense is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about the outcome of certain actions, most often referring to an audience's perceptions in a dramatic work. Suspense is not exclusive to fiction, though. Suspense may operate in any situation where there is a lead-up to a big event or dramatic...

 stories like The Birds
The Birds
The Birds may refer to:*The Birds , by Aristophanes*The Birds , by Tarjei Vesaas*The Birds , by Daphne du Maurier*The Birds , directed by Alfred Hitchcock*The Birds , by Walter Braunfels...

 (1952) and Don't Look Now (1971). Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

 was the master of the twist-in-the-tale. Short story collections like Lamb to the Slaughter (1953) and Kiss Kiss
Kiss Kiss
Kiss Kiss may refer to:* Kiss Kiss , an American indie rock band* "Kiss Kiss" * "Kiss Kiss" , also covered by Holly Valance** "Şımarık", a song by Tarkan; original Turkish version of the Stella Soleil song...

 (1960) illustrate his dark humour.

In Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy , the Cosmicomics collection of short stories , and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler .Lionised in Britain and the United States,...

 published the short story collection Marcovaldo
Marcovaldo
Marcovaldo is a collection of twenty short stories written by Italo Calvino. It was initially published as Marcovaldo ovvero Le stagioni in città . It was published in 1963 but the first stories were written in the early 1950s...

, about a poor man in a city, in 1963.

The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 is the most famous writer of short stories in the Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

. The Library of Babel
The Library of Babel
"The Library of Babel" is a short story by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges , conceiving of a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format....

 (1941) and The Aleph (1945) handle difficult subjects like infinity
Infinity
Infinity is a concept in many fields, most predominantly mathematics and physics, that refers to a quantity without bound or end. People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity...

.

See also


  • List of short story competitions
  • Drabble
    Drabble
    A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction of exactly one hundred words in length, although the term is often erroneously used to indicate a short story of fewer than 1000 words...

  • Essay
    Essay
    An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

  • Flash fiction
    Flash fiction
    Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category...

     (also called microfiction)
  • Irish short story
    Irish short story
    The Irish Short Story has a distinctive place in the modern Irish literary tradition, many of Ireland’s best writers, both in English and Irish, having been practitioners of the genre...

  • Literary journal
  • Novella
    Novella
    A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

  • Novelette
    Novelette
    A novelette is a piece of short prose fiction. The distinction between a novelette and other literary forms is usually based upon word count, with a novelette being longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella...

  • Sketch story
    Sketch story
    A sketch story, or sketch, is a piece of writing that is generally shorter than a short story, and contains very little, if any, plot. The term was most popularly-used in the late nineteenth century. As a literary work, it is also often referred to simply as the sketch.-Style:A sketch is mainly...

  • Tale
    Tale
    Tale may refer to:*Cautionary tale, a traditional story told in folklore, to warn its hearer of a danger*Fairy tale, a fictional story that usually features folkloric characters and enchantments*Folk tale, a story passed-down within a particular population, which comprises the traditions of that...

  • Vignette
    Vignette (literature)
    In theatrical script writing, sketch stories, and poetry, a vignette is a short impressionistic scene that focuses on one moment or gives a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting and sometimes an object...


Further reading

  • Gelfant, Blanche and Graver, Lawrence, (eds.), The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story, Columbia University Press (2000)
  • Hart, James (ed.) Oxford Companion to American Literature, Oxford University Press.
  • Magill, Frank, (ed.) Short Story Writers. Salem Press, Pasadena, California (1997).
  • Watson, Noelle (ed.) Reference Guide to Short Fiction. St. James Press, Detroit (1994).

External links