Realism is a work of fiction that portrays life as it may have been during the time it was written.


The Age of Innocence

by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence is a 1920 novel by American author Edith Wharton. The story is set in the 1870s, in upper-class, "Gilded-Age" New York City. The story centers on an upper-class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of the bride's cousin, plagued by scandal, whose presence threatens their happiness. The novel is noted for Wharton's attention to detail and its accurate portrayal of how the 19th-century East Coast American upper class lived, as well as for the social tragedy of its plot. Wharton was 58 years old at publication; she had lived in that world and had seen it change dramatically by the end of World War I.

American Short Fiction


This collection includes fine short stories from American authors including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and Constance Fenimore Woolson.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

by James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a fictional, tragic tale about a young mulatto's coming-of-age in the early 20th century. The unnamed narrator, who has a black mother and white father, is light-skinned enough to pass for a white man but his emotional connections to his mother's heritage make him unable to fully embrace that world.

The Bird's Christmas Carol

by Kate Douglas Wiggin

In The Bird's Christmas Carol, the arrival of Carol into the Bird family brings joy and sadness throughout the years, but her presence reminds everyone of the real meaning of Christmas.

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter

by William Wells Brown

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is a novel by William Wells Brown (1815 – 1884), a fugitive from slavery and abolitionist and was published in London, England in December 1853. It gained notoriety amid the unconfirmed rumors regarding Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Brown was still considered someone else's legal property within the borders of the United States at the time of its publication. It is considered to be the first novel written by an African American. The book follows the experiences of three generations of women during slavery.

Brown used the injustices of slavery to demonstrate the destructive effects it had on the African American family, most significantly the so–called tragic mulatto. Brown had escaped from slavery in Kentucky while still in his youth, and became active on the anti–slavery circuit.

Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, an impoverished St. Petersburg ex-student who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money.

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield is a novel by Charles Dickens. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial form a year earlier. Many elements within the novel follow events in Dickens' own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of all of his novels.

Dickens' Christmas Stories


This book collects five short works by Charles Dickens. Although the stories were not necessarily based on a Christmas theme, Dickens' annual Christmas stories had become a national institution since his publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843. The last two passages are a part of the 1859 Christmas publication The Haunted House co-authored by Dickens and five other authors.

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations follows Pip's life expectations as he attempts to fit in with upper class society, while pining for the affection of Estella.

The Jungle

by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle is a novel by American author and socialist Upton Sinclair. It describes the life of a family of Lithuanian immigrants working in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards at the beginning of the 20th century. The novel depicts in harsh tones the poverty, complete absence of social security, scandalous living and working conditions, and generally utter hopelessness prevalent among the have-nots, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of the haves. The sad state of turn-of-the-century labor is placed front and center for the American public to see suggesting that something needed to be changed to get rid of American “wage slavery”. The novel is also an important example of the “muckraking” tradition begun by journalists such as Jacob Riis. Sinclair wanted to show how the mainstream parties of American politics, already being tied into the industrial-capitalist machine, offered little means for progressive change. As such the book is deeply supportive of values and criticisms held by Communism, a movement still in its infancy at the time.

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens' second novel. It is about a boy named Oliver Twist, who escapes from a workhouse and meets a gang of pickpockets in London. The novel is one of Dickens's most well-known works, and has been the subject of numerous film and television adaptations.

The Red Badge of Courage

by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage is an impressionistic novel by Stephen Crane about the meaning of courage, as it is narrated by Henry Fleming, a recruit in the American Civil War. It is one of the most influential American war stories ever written even though the author was born after the war and had never seen battle himself. Crane met and spoke with a number of veterans as a student and he created what is widely regarded as an unusually realistic depiction of a young man in battle.

Silas Marner

by George Eliot

Silas Marner, published in 1861, is a dramatic novel following the life of Silas Marner and his path from embittered outsider to proud father and respected citizen.

Tales of the Jazz Age

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book contains selections from the F. Scott Fitzgerald collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The short stories collected here include the novelette May Day and the novella The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.

The book is divided into three parts: My Last Flappers (The Jelly-Bean, The Camel's Back, May Day, and Porcelain and Pink), Fantasies (The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Unclassified Masterpieces (The Lees of Happiness, Mr. Icky, and Jemina the Mountain Girl)

Winesburg, Ohio

by Sherwood Anderson

Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life is a critically acclaimed work of fiction by the American author Sherwood Anderson. The book, published in 1919, is a collection of related short stories, which could be loosely defined as a novel. The stories are centered on the protagonist George Willard and the fictional inhabitants of the town of Winesburg, Ohio.