Early American Literature Reading List
If you are fascinated by early American literature, you are in for a treat! Reading books from this period will give you a glimpse into the lives, beliefs, and struggles of the people who lived in the United States before it became the country we know today.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
One of the most famous names in American history, Benjamin Franklin was not only a founding father but also an author, inventor, and diplomat. His autobiography was written towards the end of his life and is considered a classic of American literature. In it, Franklin recounts his early years in Boston and Philadelphia, his rise to wealth and power, and his contributions to the birth of the United States.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This novel, published in 1850, is set in Puritan New England in the mid-17th century. It tells the story of Hester Prynne, a woman who bears a child out of wedlock and is forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ as a symbol of her adultery. The novel explores themes of morality, guilt, and redemption and is considered one of Hawthorne’s greatest achievements.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s novel about a young boy and his journey down the Mississippi River is a beloved classic of American literature. Huckleberry Finn is an orphan who escapes from his abusive father and teams up with a runaway slave named Jim. Together, they face numerous obstacles and learn important lessons about race, friendship, and freedom.
Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Published in 1776, this pamphlet by Thomas Paine played a significant role in the American Revolution. It presented a clear and persuasive argument for independence from Great Britain and was widely read and distributed throughout the colonies. Common Sense helped galvanize public opinion and inspire the founding fathers to take bold action.
Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
This history book is one of the earliest and most important sources for the history of the Plymouth Colony. It was written by William Bradford, a founder of the colony and its governor for more than 30 years. The book covers the period from the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 to the year 1647 and offers a compelling firsthand account of the challenges and triumphs of the early settlers.
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
This novel, published in 1826, is set during the French and Indian War and tells the story of Hawkeye, a frontiersman, and his two Mohican companions as they escort two daughters of a British colonel to safety. The Last of the Mohicans is considered a classic of American literature for its vivid descriptions of the wilderness, its portrayals of Native Americans, and its themes of loyalty and honor.
Reading these books will not only provide you with entertainment and enjoyment but also deepen your understanding of early American history.