Friday, January 31, 2014

Writing Books With Culture, 1900-1920

When thinking about the most popular books of present day, what comes to mind?  The Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series, the Fault in Our Stars, and the Book Thief certainly are books everyone has heard of and quite possibly read.  Most know who Nicholas Sparks, Stephanie Meyer, and Dan Brown are, and have read their books, or at least know someone who has.  Books seep into our culture, and culture, in some ways, writes the books.  

Credit: Library of Congress
Jessie (standing) and Eleanor  Wilson
What book might Eleanor and Jessie Wilson (two of Woodrow’s daughters) be reading in this photograph taken around 1912?

Interestingly enough, during Wilson’s presidency, many well-known authors we still read today were writing some of their classic stories.  F. Scott Fitzgerald was creating his Great Gatsby, A.A. Milne was dreaming up Winnie the Pooh, Arthur Conan Doyle was investigating his ideas for Sherlock Holmes, L. Frank Baum was imaging a Wizard in Oz, and Agatha Christie was penning her riveting mysteries.

In 1917, one very popular book was Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells, which was featured on best sellers lists of the year. 

“This story is essentially the history of the opening and of the realisation of the Great War as it happened to one small group of people in Essex, and more particularly, as it happened to one human brain” (216).

The book was released in 1916 in England, one year before the United States joined the war that Wells writes about.   The impact of the Great War found its way into the plots of many books of that time, and it is no surprise that the book gained a lot of attention from the United States after the country entered into the war.  Culture was written into the book, and in return the book became a way for the culture to understand the war and the changes made on society. 

-Bethany Hagen

1 comment :

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