Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Widely recognised as the master of the macabre, Poe was also a pioneer of detective and science fiction. He was one of the first American exponents of the short story and his works continue to resonate with contemporary readers. His stories have influenced literature around the world and remained a mainstay of popular culture.
Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)
A prolific short story writer, de Maupassant was one of the earliest to adopt a laconic prose style. His stories are humorously abrasive in their social commentary and still retain a great personal pathos. After de Maupassant, the structure of the short story was to change forever.
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
One of the greatest writers of short fiction in history. Chekhov’s stories, set in Tsarist Russia, expose the hidden motives of characters who are driven by human desires and prevailing social forces. While he is justly revered for his plays, his stories stand as no lesser achievement. A major influence on Hemingway, Nabokov, Joyce and Raymond Carver.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
The man who invented the term ‘The Jazz Age’. Acclaimed for his novels, Fitzgerald also left a significant legacy in his 164 short stories. Influenced by the modernist writers of the Lost Generation, he is now regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)
Admired by Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Flannery O’Connor, Malamud is often overlooked and his works grace far too few bookshelves. He is a master storyteller whose tales of redemption and sacrifice reveal the frailties of the human soul.
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
While McCullers’ stories are deeply rooted in the small-town world of the deep south, the themes are universal. Her characters are often outcasts whose isolation can be the result of circumstance or design. In either case, their innermost desires remain the focus. A resolution may or may not follow, but the interior journey stays with you.
Roald Dahl (1916-1990)
Loved by young and old alike. With book sales in excess of 250 million, Dahl’s stories have crossed generations and continents. His adult short stories are often very confronting in content, and their surprise endings can blindside even the most astute reader.
Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)
The master of the Southern Gothic style. Her stories appear to be extreme, with characters and situations that on the surface may seem uncommon. Yet at their heart they are as real, relatable and unsettling as any work of non-fiction. Flannery’s stories are so rich and layered, they can be revisited time and time again.
Richard Matheson (1926-2013)
Known primarily for his post-apocalyptic novel I am Legend, Matheson has also written some of the best science fiction short stories. Many have been adapted for film and television, with 16 adapted for the classic series of The Twilight Zone. At once fantastic and everyday, they are compelling tales that make you wonder why he is not a household name.
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)
Never has so much been said with so little. Carver made an art form of economy of language and has proven the power of what is not said. He is a revelation to those who read him for the first time. Each story, it seems, is better than the last and leaves you hungering for more. A genius.