January 2016 | Nate Pedersen

The Bestselling Books of... 1915 (Part 1)

Last year I began a new annual tradition on the Fine Books blog where I reviewed the bestselling books of 100 years ago. This week, with my first posts in the new year, let's take a look back at the top ten bestsellers from 1915:

In descending order:

10) Angela's Business by Henry Sydnor Harrison.  Harrison is largely forgotten today, but in 1915 he was on the heels of a previous bestseller, Queed, from 1911. Harrison was born in Sewanee, Tennessee, and attended Columbia University.  His second novel, the introspective Angela's Business, delves into the perennial dilemma of the modern woman in the 20th century: career vs family.

9) The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey.  No stranger to the bestseller list, Grey is one of the few bestsellers from 1915 still read today.  The Lone Star Ranger follows the story of Buck Duane, an outlaw with a conscience, who eventually joins the Texas Rangers and clears his name.

8) The Harbor by Ernest Poole. Poole was a journalist, who was active in child labor reform in the early 20th century. He also served as a foreign correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post during the First World War. His novel The Harbor is considered one of the first novels to portray trade unions as a positive force in society.  The book is set on the Brooklyn waterfront amongst a group of proletariats. Poole would later win the Pulitzer for his 1918 novel His Family, but some suspected the Pulitzer Committee was really honoring the achievement of Poole's earlier novel with a social conscience.

7) Felix O'Day by F. Hopkinson Smith. In addition to a successful career as an author, Smith was also an artist and an engineer responsible for building the base that would hold the Statue of Liberty. Smith died in 1915 and Felix O'Day was the second to last of his novels to be published.  Smith had commanded the bestseller lists at the end of the 19th century, particular with his novels Tom Grogan and Caleb West. In the novel, Felix O'Day is a wealthy Englishman recently arrived in America in search of his missing wife who ran off with another man.

6) Jaffrey by William John Locke. Jaffrey, a novel about relationshipswas one of five novels by the ever popular Locke to hit the bestseller lists.  One of this others, The Fortunate Youth, was featured in this same post last year when we reviewed 1914 titles.

And that's where we will leave it for today.  Tune in again on Thursday this week for the top five bestsellers from 1915....