Once Famous Novelists Populate 1919 Bestseller List

A lot of novels have gone to the remainder bin since 1919. Few of the bestsellers of that year are still on library shelves. I have located a trove of vintage fiction at Milne Library at SUNY Oneonta, but that collection does not circulate.

However, I was lucky in finding circulating copies of the three top novels of 1919, which I’ll review the next three Wednesdays.

Here’s the entire list fo 1919 bestselling novels:

  1. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpse by V. Blasco Ibanez
  2. The Arrow of Gold by Joseph Conrad
  3. The Desert of Wheat by Zane Grey
  4. Dangerous Days by Mary Roberts Rinehart
  5. The Sky Pilot in No Man’s Land by Ralph Connor
  6. The Re-Creation of Brian Kent by Howard Bell Wright
  7. Dawn by Gene Stratton-Porter
  8. The Tin Soldier by Temple Bailey
  9. Christopher and Columbus by “Elizabeth”
  10. In Secret by Robert W. Chambers

You may want to check Grandma’s attic to see if any of these titles are tucked away under the eaves.

The authors on the list were big names in their day. Temple Bailey, Howard Bell Wright, and Ralph Connor were so famous that other writers dropped their names into novel dialogue to establish the tastes and personalities of their characters.

Zane Grey’s westerns still have a considerable following.  Users at my local library branch have dog-eared numerous paperback editions of the works of the Ohio native who raised Western novels to a cult art form.

Pittsburgh novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart was more popular in her day than her chief rival in murder mysteries, Agatha Christie.   It is Rinehart, not Christie, to whom we owe the phrase “the butler did it.”

Gene Stratton-Porter maintains a strong following among homeschoolers today for her clean-cut young adult characters.

Joseph Conrad, of course, is represented on the reading lists of high school and college students by his Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks if The Arrow of Gold is equally good.

Next Wednesday’s review will be of the #1 novel of 1919, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

~Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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