American Literature Timeline
Timeline Description: The written word was one of man's greatest accomplishments. Once settlers began arriving in America, they immediately began writing about their experiences; they never stopped writing.

Date Event
1616 John Smith's writings

One of the most famous early American explorers was also one of the first American writers. John Smith published A Description of New England, an account of his explorations.
1776 In Common Sense

The height of the American Revolution produced tension between colonists and loyalists to the British crown. Thomas Paine, an English immigrant, published In Common Sense, encouraging the settlers to fight for their freedom.
1783 Noah Webster's Spelling Book

A handful of children's workbooks were created throughout America's history, but one of the most well-known is Noah Webster's spelling book. His works would continue for years to come, and become known as Webster's dictionary.
1800 Library of Congress

The government recognized the importance of literature and writings. The US Library of Congress was established in Washington.
1820 Washington Irving

One of America's most well-known early writers was Washington Irving. His first great work came out in 1820, titled Rip Van Winkle.
1821 James Fenimore Cooper

A US author named James Cooper established himself with a spy tale set during the Revolutionary War. It was titled The Spy, and it would be followed two years later with The Pioneers.
1826 The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper continued his writing career to much fame. One of his greatest works was The Last of the Mohicans.
1829 Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar began his career as one of the great American gothic poets. Some of his most famous works were The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Raven.
1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne

After several years of writing, Nathaniel Hawthorne published his most famous novel. Titled The Scarlet Letter, it has lived on for years.
1851 Herman Melville's Moby Dick

Another famous novel coming out of the mid-1800's was a book by Herman Melville. It was a story brought about by his adventures at sea, and it was titled Moby Dick; or The Whale.
1852 An antislavery movement

Tensions had been growing throughout the country due to the use of slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and it set the country on fire to end slavery.
1863 Mark Twain comes on the scene

Born as Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain wrote under a pen name. His first published work was a magazine article, City's Territorial Enterprise; his most famous works included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
1866 Walt Whitman

Walt had previously published several poems. One of his most famous poems was a tribute to Abraham Lincoln called O Captain! My Captain!
1936 Gone With the Wind

Decades passed with numerous iconic books and poems being published. In 1936, Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind, which would become one of the best-selling novels of all time, even being made into a movie.
1937 John Steinbeck

A new age of great American writers was blooming. John Steinbeck was one of them, whose most famous works included Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath.
1950's and beyond Half a century of literature

American literature continued to grow and change. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee were just two of the iconic novels written during this time. The American literature industry would continue blooming, and still produces great literature today.