The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

VI. The Short Story

§ 20. The Eighties

With the eighties the short story came in America fully to its own. Up to 1884 it had generally been regarded as a magazine form, a rather trivial thing as compared with the stately novel. Hawthorne had abandoned the form early with the implication that he had used it as a prentice exercise. Harte no sooner had gained recognition than he began on Gabriel Conroy. Henry James, though it must be noted that it was after his long English residence, while revising his work declared that he had felt a sense of relief when he abandoned the frail craft of the short story where he ever had felt in danger of running ashore. Scarcely one of the later group of short story writers but sooner or later sought permanence in what, though they might not have confessed it, seemed to them the more permanent and dignified form of fiction.

Beginning in 1884, however, collections more and more began to dominate the output of fiction. Henry James in 1885 gathered up his scattered work of a decade and put it forth as Stories Revived. Others followed him, until seven years later the critic Copeland could devote an entire Atlantic article to the short-story collections of the year. The full triumph came in 1891, which produced this significant list of collections: Elsket, and Other Stories, Thomas Nelson Page; Balaam and his Master, Joel Chandler Harris; Flute and Violin, James Lane Allen; Otto the Knight, Octave Thanet (Alice French); Main-Travelled Roads, Hamlin Garland; Gallegher, and Other Stories, Richard Harding Davis; Fourteen to One, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps; Huckleberries Gathered from New England Hills, Rose Terry Cooke; Iduna, and Other Stories, George A. Hibbard; Three Tales, William Douglas O’Connor; Uncle of an Angel, Thomas A. Janvier; Zadoc Pine, and Other Stories, Bunner; With My Friends, Brander Matthews; Rudder Grangers Abroad, Stockton; The Adventures of Three Worthies, Clinton Ross.