Good Short Reading

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This is a selection of what I think is some of the best short fiction, non-fiction and poetry from authors of years long past:

Ambrose BIERCE (1842-c1914)Killed At Resaca [c1891] (2400 words) is an uncollected short story.

Marthy BURK, née CANNARY, aka Calamity Jane (1852-1903):  Her autobiographical pamphlet The Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane [c1900] (2000 words) is worth reading.

Kate CHOPIN (1851-1904)A Pair of Silk Stockings [c1894] (1900 words) reminds me in subject matter of Poe's The Imp of the Perverse.

Lewis CARROLL (Charles Lutwidge DODGSON) (1832-1898):  The poems from his ‘Alice’ books are rightfully classics:
"You Are Old Father William,"... (from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland) [1865] (32 lines)
The Lobster Quadrille (from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland) [1865] (18 lines)
Jabberwocky (from Through The Looking-Glass) [1871] (28 lines)
The Walrus And The Carpenter (from Through The Looking-Glass) [1871] (108 lines)

O HENRY (William Sydney PORTER) (1862-1910):  Porter was an American writer of short stories, The Gift Of The Magi [c1906] (2100 words) being probably his most famous.  One of the delights of a short story is to have a sting in the tail/tale; this one's sting is double-pronged.

Jack LONDON (1876-1916):  London wrote many stories set in the wilds of North America, of which the most famous short story seems to be To Build a Fire [1910] (7200 words).

Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849):  Few writers can claim to have founded a genre of writing – Poe more or less founded two: detective fiction and science fiction.  Of the two, the science fiction tales: The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall [1835] (19 000 words), The Balloon Hoax [1844] (5200 words), and Mellonta Tauta [1849] (5700 words) have fared less well with age than the detective stories, which feature the prototype ‘brilliant amateur detective’, Auguste Dupin: The Murders in the Rue Morgue [1841] (13 800 words), The Mystery of Marie Rôget [1842-43] (20 600 words), and The Purloined Letter [1845] (7100 words).  Two of his other, less well-known tales that have a timeless quality are The Imp of the Perverse [1845] (2400 words), and The Man of the Crowd [1840] (3500 words).  A group of his tales are based around descriptions of gardens and natural scences, which appeal to the would-be gardener in me: The Elk [1844] (1900 words), The Domain of Arnheim [1847] (6000 words), Landor's Cottage [1849] (4800 words), and The Island of the Fay [1841] (2000 words).  Of Poe's well-known ‘tales of mystery and imagination’, my favorite is The Fall of the House of Usher [1839] (7400 words), the setting of which reminds me very much of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, and Ightham Mote in Kent, both 14th-century moated country houses.

William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616):  His most famous poetry is the Sonnets [1609] (2156 lines), concerning which Oscar Wilde wrote his The Portrait of Mr W H.

Oscar WILDE (1854-1900):  Some of his short stories are classics: Lord Arthur Savile's Crime [1887] (12 600 words), The Nightingale and the Rose [1888] (2400 words), The Portrait of Mr W H [1889] (11 500 words), and, especially, The Canterville Ghost [1887] (11 400 words).  His most famous poem is The Ballad of Reading Gaol [1898] (654 lines).  He was perhaps best known as a wit, which shows in the epigrams scattered throughout his work, and which he gathered together in at least three places: the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray [1891] (400 words), A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated [1894] (400 words), and Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young [1894] (500 words).