The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 26. The Victory of Fiction in the United States
By 1851 there were, or had been, many novelists whose names could find place only in an extended account of American fiction: writers of adventure stories more sensational than Simms’s or of moral stories more obvious than Miss Sedgwick’s and Mrs. Child’s, author for children, authors preaching causes, authors celebrating fashionable or Bohemian life in New York. Not only regular novels and romances but briefer tales multiplied. The period which could boast in Cooper but one novelist of first rank could show three such taletellers as Irving, Hawthorne, and Poe. The annuals and magazines met the demand for such amusement and fostered it, but the novel was encouraged more than it was hurt by the new type. Prose fiction, in fact, though somewhat late in starting, had firmly established itself in the United States by the middle of the century, and Cooper, followed in Great Britain by the nautical romancers, and on the Continent by such writers about wild life as Karl Anton Postl (“Charles Sealsfield”), Friedrich Gerstaäscker, and Gustave Aimard, and everywhere read, had become a world figure.