Full Texts of Classic Works

The Daughters of the Late Colonel by Katherine Mansfield (full text)

“The Daughters of the Late Colonel” by Katherine Mansfield is a modernist short story. New Zealand-born Mansfield (1888 – 1923) has been recognized for revolutionizing the short story form.

“The Daughters of the Late Colonel” is considered among her most highly regarded stories, along with “At the Bay,” “The Voyage,” and “The Stranger.”  

Written in 1920, this story (now in the public domain) was first published in The London Mercury in 1921, and was later part of Mansfield’s short story collection, The Garden Party and Other Stories. Read More→

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The Ghetto at Florence, an 1886 essay by Amy Levy

Beginning in 1886, Amy Levy wrote several essays on Jewish culture and literature for The Jewish Chronicle. The best known is The Ghetto at Florence, presented here. Others in this series included The Jew in Fiction, Jewish Humour, and Jewish Children.

Amy Levy (1861 – 1889) was a 19th-century British novelist, essayist, and poet. She was best known for Reuben Sachs, an 1888 novel that examined Jewish life in Victorian England, a subject that was unusual for its time. 

Despite talent and accomplishment, this promising writer died by her own hand when not quite twenty-eight years old following years of struggle with depression. Read More→

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“A Chat About the Hand” – A 1905 essay by Helen Keller

Blind and deaf from an early age, Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) became a prolific American author and disability rights activist. The 1905 essay by Helen Keller presented here, “A Chat About the Hand,” conveys in great detail how she communicated and sensed the world around her. At right, Helen Keller in 1904.

This entry in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica illustrates how accomplished she was already (with decades to live yet ahead of her) at the age of thirty-one:

Helen Adams Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. When about nineteen months old she was deprived of sight and hearing by an attack of scarlet fever. At the request of her parents, who were acquainted with the success attained in the case of Laura Bridgman, one of the graduates of the Perkins Institution at Boston, Miss Anne Sullivan was sent to instruct her at home … Read More→

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Body of this Death: Poems by Louise Bogan (1923) – full text

Louise Bogan (1897 – 1970) has largely fallen off the radar when it comes to American poetry of the 20th century, yet in her time she was one of the most lauded poets of her generation. Presented here is the full text of her first published book of poems, Body of this Death (1923).

The title is derived from the quote, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” from the King James Bible.

Bogan’s poetry was praised by her contemporaries for its spare, restrained style. Much of her expression and subject matter was derived from her personal life (which wasn’t an easy one), yet her subtlety prevented her poems from becoming confessional. Read More→

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“A Death in the Desert” — a short story by Willa Cather

Originally published in Scribner’s Magazine in 1903, “A Death in the Desert” is a widely anthologized short story by Willa Cather. The full text of its final, 1920 version is presented here.

Cather had two occasions to self-edit the story. It appeared in her first collection of stories, The Troll Garden (1905), and then in Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920). All told, she edited it down from about ten thousand words to seven thousand, polishing it to its essence.

“A Death in the Desert” tells of a man named Everett who, at the start of the story, is on a train from Holdrege, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Bearing a strong resemblance to his older brother Adriance, a well-known musician, he is forever burdened by the comparison. Read More→

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