The John Harvard Library
The John Harvard Library, founded in 1959, publishes essential American writings, including novels, poetry, memoirs, criticism, and works of social and political history, representing all periods, from the beginning of settlement in America to the twenty-first century. The purpose of the John Harvard Library is to make these works available to scholars and general readers in affordable, authoritative editions.
The JHL’s paperback editions of classic works of American literature feature cover illustrations by award-winning portraitist and illustrator Robert Carter.
Below are the in-print works in this collection. Sort by title, author, format, publication date, or price »
These eight reports by white settlers held captive by Indians have gripped the imaginations of American writers through our history. The book presents the best of the New England narratives, delineating the social and ideological struggle between captors and settlers, and constituting a dramatic rendition of a spiritual struggle for redemption.
The Key of Liberty offers, better than any book yet published, a grassroots view of the rise of democratic opposition in the new nation. It sheds considerable light on the popular culture—literary, religious, and profane—of the epoch.
For 350 years Governor John Winthrop’s journal has been recognized as the central source for the history of Massachusetts in the 1630s and 1640s. This full-scale, unabridged edition uses the manuscript volumes of the first and third notebooks, and James Savage’s transcription of the middle notebook (accidentally destroyed in 1825).
The abridged edition of John Winthrop’s journal, which incorporates about 40 percent of the governor’s text, includes a lively introduction and complete annotation.
This Faustian tale of the spiritual disintegration of a young minister, written in the 1890s, deals subtly and powerfully with the impact of science on innocence and the collective despair that marked the transition into the modern age.
This remarkable document—the first African American biography and a work that predates Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by almost thirty years—is a lost treasure from the annals of African American history. Susan Paul’s portrayal of James Jackson’s Christian sensibility, his idealism, and his racial awareness emphasizes his humanity and exemplary American character over his racial identity, even as it embeds him in his African American community.
Born into the first family of the British stage, Fanny Kemble was one of the most famous woman writers of the English-speaking world, a best-selling author on both sides of the Atlantic. Her autobiographical writings are compelling evidence of Kemble’s wit and talent, and they also offer a dazzling overview of her transatlantic world.
Fitzhugh (1806–1881) offers a stinging attack on free society, laissez-faire economy, and wage slavery, and their philosophical underpinnings, using socialist doctrine to defend slavery. Drawing on the same evidence Marx used in his indictment of capitalism, he holds that socialism is only “the new fashionable name for slavery.”
In The New Basis of Civilization, originally published in 1907, Simon Patten tried to modify traditional assumptions about the permanence of poverty, the effects of a more equitable distribution of wealth, and the possibility of substantial improvements in the standard of living.
This book’s publication in 1832 initiated an era of agricultural reform in the ante-bellum South. By 1850 Edmund Ruffin had effected a transformation of the economy of the upper South from poverty to agricultural prosperity. This small book, with its uncompromisingly descriptive title, is a landmark in the history of soil chemistry in the United States.
Though the discussion of sectional and racial problems is an important element in the book, A Fool’s Errand has merit as a dramatic narrative—with its love affair, and its moments of pathos, suffering, and tragedy. This combination of tract and melodrama made it a bestseller in its day.
The effect of this “single, immortal, and dubious anecdote,” and others like it, has made this book one of the most influential in the history of American folklore. The first republication of the book since 1927, it is unique in its detailed commentary on Weems and other biographers of Washington.
“I like a little rebellion now and then,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, enlisting in a tradition that throughout American history has led writers to rage and reason, prophesy and provoke. American Protest Literature presents sources from eleven protest movements—political, social, and cultural—from the Revolution to abolition to gay rights to antiwar protest. In this impressive work, Zoe Trodd provides an enlightening and inspiring survey of this most American form of literature.
Davis gathers together important selections from Williams’s public and private writings on religious liberty, illustrating how this renegade Puritan radically reinterpreted Christian moral theology and the events of his day in a powerful argument for freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state.
Jim Crow is the figure that has long represented America’s imperfect union. This compact edition of the earliest Jim Crow plays and songs presents essential performances that assembled backtalk, banter, masquerade, and dance into the diagnostic American style. They celebrate an irresistibly attractive blackness in a young Republic that had failed to come together until Americans agreed to disagree over Jim Crow’s meaning.
No book more vividly explains the horror of American slavery and the emotional impetus behind the antislavery movement than Frederick Douglass’s Narrative. In an introductory essay, Robert B. Stepto reexamines the extraordinary life and achievement of a man who escaped from slavery to become a leading abolitionist and one of America’s most important writers. This text reproduces the first edition, published in Boston in 1845.
Easily the most controversial antislavery novel written in antebellum America, and one of the best-selling books of the nineteenth century, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is often credited with intensifying the sectional conflict that led to the Civil War. In his introduction, David Bromwich places Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel in its Victorian contexts and reminds us why it is an enduring work of literary and moral imagination.
Published serially in New York papers between October 1787 and August 1788, the 85 Federalist Papers written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay under the pseudonym “Publius” advocated ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution. The John Harvard Library text reproduces that of the first book edition (1788), modernizing spelling and capitalization.
Jacob Riis’s pioneering work of photojournalism takes its title from Rabelais’s Pantagruel: “One half of the world knoweth not how the other half liveth; considering that no one has yet written of that Country.” An anatomy of New York City’s slums in the 1880s, it vividly brought home to its first readers through the powerful combination of text and images the squalid living conditions of “the other half,” who might well have inhabited another country.
The John Harvard Library presents the first American edition of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, one of the first non-romantic novels of the Civil War—and the first account to gain wide popularity. Paul Sorrentino introduces Red Badge to a new generation of readers for a fuller appreciation of the novel and its effects.
Much more than an historical examination of liability, criminal law, torts, bail, possession and ownership, and contracts, The Common Law articulates the ideas and judicial theory of one of the greatest justices of the Supreme Court. The John Harvard Library presents a text that is, with occasional corrections of typographical errors, identical to that found in the first and all subsequent printings by Little, Brown.
Hawthorne’s greatest romance is often simplistically seen as a timeless tale of desire, sin, and redemption. In his Introduction, Michael J. Colacurcio argues that it is also a serious historical novel. This edition reproduces the authoritative text of The Scarlet Letter in the Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Following on the heels of The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables was intended to be a far sunnier book than its predecessor and one that would illustrate “the folly” of tumbling down on posterity “an avalanche of ill-gotten gold, or real estate.” Many critics have faulted the novel for its explaining away of hereditary guilt or its contradictory denial of it. Denis Donoghue instructs the reader in a fresh appreciation of the novel.
One of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great romances, The Blithedale Romance draws upon the author’s experiences at Brook Farm, the short-lived utopian community where Hawthorne spent much of 1841. Blithedale (“Happy Valley”), another would-be modern Arcadia, is the stage for Hawthorne’s grimly comic tragedy. In his introduction, Robert S. Levine considers biographical and historical contexts and offers a fresh appreciation of the novel’s ironic first-person narrator.
Anne Bradstreet was one of our earliest feminists and the first true poet in the American colonies. This collection of her extant poetry and prose, scrupulously edited by Jeannine Hensley, has long been the standard edition of Bradstreet’s work. Hensley’s introduction sketches the poet’s life, and Adrienne Rich’s foreword offers a sensitive critique of Bradstreet as a person and as a writer. The John Harvard Library edition includes a chronology of Bradstreet’s life and an updated bibliography.
Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821–1873) never wanted to start a revolution in poetry, yet he remains one of America’s most passionate, moving, and technically accomplished poets of the nineteenth century: a New Englander, a poet of the outdoors, wandering fields and wooded hillsides by himself, driven to poetry and the solitude of nature by the loss of his beloved wife. Correcting numerous errors in previous editions, this is the first reliable reading edition of Tuckerman’s sonnets and stanzaic lyric poetry. Ben Mazer has painstakingly re-edited the poems in this selection from manuscripts at the Houghton Library. Included in this generous selection are several important poems omitted in The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman.
This enlarged edition of the most significant and celebrated slave narrative completes the Jacobs family saga, surely one of the most memorable in all of American history. John S. Jacobs’s short slave narrative, A True Tale of Slavery, published in London in 1861, adds a brother’s perspective to Harriet A. Jacobs’s autobiography.
The 19th century was the heyday of furious contention between American political parties, and Silbey has recaptured the drama and substance of those battles in a sampling of party pamphlets. The nature of political controversy, as well as the substance of politics, is embedded in these party documents which both united and divided Americans.
The nineteenth century was the heyday of furious contention between American political parties, and Joel Silbey has recaptured the drama and substance of those battles in a representative sampling of party pamphlets. The pamphlets demonstrate how, for this fifty-year period, political parties were surrogates for American demands and values.
This is the first volume of a four-volume set that will reprint in their entirety the texts of 72 pamphlets relating to the Anglo-American controversy that were published in America in the years 1750–1776. They have been selected from the corpus of the pamphlet literature on the basis of their importance in the growth of American political and social ideas, their role in the debate with England over constitutional rights, and their literary merit.
When Thomas Paine’s attack on the British mixed constitution of kings, lords, and commons was published in January 1776, fighting had already erupted between British troops and American Patriots, but many Patriots still balked at seeking independence. “By discrediting the sovereign king,” Alan Taylor argues in his introduction, “Paine made independence thinkable—as he relocated sovereignty from a royal family to the collective people of a republic.” Paine’s American readers could conclude that they stood at “the center of a new and coming world of utopian potential.”
First published in 1848, Frederick Grimke’s book, in the words of the editor, “deserves comparison with Tocqueville’s justly famous work, Democracy in America, and is in certain ways superior. It is the single best book written by an American in the nineteenth century on the meaning of our political way of life.”
The Independent Reflector, a polemical essay-journal, here republished for the first time since its appearance in 1752–53, is a pungently written commentary on the culture of pre-Revolutionary America. Seeking to awaken New Yorkers to contemporary social problems, William Livingston urged reforms of all kinds and took advanced positions on key issues religious freedom, freedom of the press, public education.
The first major American critique of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, this book, originally published in 1907, became a powerful tract on behalf of the reform movement of the Progressives. Its vision of American history as a polar conflict between liberalism and conservatism flourished in American scholarship through much of the twentieth century. The editor’s introduction and notes puts Smith’s thesis into its historical context and evaluate the merits of his case in the light of modern scholarship and politics.
Francis Wayland’s The Elements of Moral Science, first published in 1835, was one of the most widely used and influential American textbooks of the nineteenth century. Direct and simple in its presentation, the book was more a didactic manual than a philosophic discussion of ethical problems. This text reproduces the 1837 revision of The Elements of Moral Science.
Dark, weird, psychologically complex, Hawthorne’s short fiction continues to fascinate readers. Brenda Wineapple has made a generous selection of Hawthorne’s stories, including some of his best-known tales as well as other, less-often anthologized gems.
Published here for the first time is a crucial document in the history of American radicalism—the “Prison Blossoms,” a series of essays, narratives, poems, and fables composed by three activist anarchists imprisoned for the 1892 assault on anti-union steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick.
First published in 1902, and illustrated by Jacob Epstein, Hutchins Hapgood’s evocation of the spiritual and cultural life of Yiddish New York remains fresh and relevant, and an invaluable commentary on one aspect of the formation of modern America. Moses Rischin’s discerning and affectionate introduction places Hapgood’s neglected classic squarely in the mainstream of American cultural development.
George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature was the first book to attack the American myth of the superabundance and the inexhaustibility of the earth. It was, as Lewis Mumford said, “the fountainhead of the conservation movement,” and few books since have had such an influence on the way men view and use land.
This landmark anthology collects speeches, letters, newspapers, journals, poems, and songs to demonstrate that John Brown’s actions at Harpers Ferry altered the course of history. Without Brown, the Civil War probably might have been delayed by four years and emancipation movements in Brazil, Cuba, even Russia might have been disrupted.
Published in London just as the idea of an “American” was becoming a reality, Letters introduced Europeans to America’s landscape, customs, and then-new people. Moore’s reader’s edition situates these twelve letters, which shift from hope to disillusion, in the context of thirteen other essays representative of Crèvecoeur’s writings in English.
The Marble Faun mingles fable with fact in a mysterious tale of American artists liberated from New England mores in Rome. Hawthorne’s novel is ultimately less about freedom than its costs. The John Harvard Library edition reproduces the authoritative text of The Marble Faun in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The unsolved riddle at the heart of Pudd’nhead Wilson is less the identity of the murderer than the question of whether nature or nurture makes the man. In his introduction, Werner Sollors illuminates the complex web of uncertainty that is the switched-and-doubled-identity world of Mark Twain’s novel.