Embracing a wide variety of subjects, this choice collection of 13 short stories represents the work of an elite group of American women writing in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest stories are Rebecca Harding Davis’ naturalistic “Life in the Iron Mills” (published in 1861 and predating Imile Zola’s “Germinal” by almost 25 years) and Louisa May Alcott’s semiautobiographical tale “Transcendental Wild Oats” (1873). The most recent ones are Zora Neals Hurston’s “Sweat,” an ironic tale of a failed marriage, published in 1926, and “Sanctuary” (1930), Nella Larsen’s gripping and controversial tale of contested loyalty.
In between is a grand cavalcade of superbly crafted fiction by Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Willa Cather, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Djuna Barnes, Susan Glaspell and Edith Wharton. Brief biographies of each of the writers are included.