Western Classic Novels List

compiled by Laura Sherrill (IHS)

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Agee, James

Death in the Family, A


The enchanted childhood summer of 1915 suddenly becomes a baffling experience for Rufus Follet when his father dies.

Alcott, Louisa May

Little Women


A small New England village in the 1800's is the backdrop for the story of the March family.

Austen, Jane



A study of a complex young lady of twenty, whose egotism, snobbishness, and zeal for arranging the affairs of others leads her into errors of judgment.

Austen, Jane

Pride and Prejudice


Mrs. Bennet scrambles to find husbands for her five daughters in a gentle satire of human weakness and prejudice.

Bradbury, Ray

Fahrenheit 451


Reading is a crime, and firemen burn books in this futuristic society.

Bronte, Charlotte

Jane Eyre


An impoverished young woman finds love when she becomes the governess of brooding Mr. Rochester's ward.

Bronte, Emily

Wuthering Heights


The windswept moors of England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries provide the backdrop for this classic tale of passion and violence.

Camus, Albert

Stranger, The


A man who is virtually unknown to both himself and others commits a pointless murder for which he has no explanation.

Cather, Willa

Death Comes for the Archbishop


Set in the mid-19th century, this is the story of a pries who sets out to win the Southwest for Catholicism.

Cather, Willa

O Pioneers!


Alesandra Bergson tames the wild land and leads her less intelligent brothers to prosperity.

Cervantes, Miguel de

Don Quixote


The saga of the fabulous knight and his simple squire and their adventures in medieval Spain.

Chopin, Kate

Awakening, The


An unhappy wife and mother discovers new qualities in herself when she visits Grand Isle, a resort for the Creole elite of New Orleans.

Conrad, Joseph

Lord Jim


A haunted sailor, driven from port to port, from island to island, Lord Jim is a man in search of identity.

Cooper, James Fenimore

Deerslayer, The


Set in 1740, during the French and Indian Wars, Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) discovers his identity in the bloody struggles.

Cooper, James Fenimore

Last of the Mohicans


The main character, Natty Bumppo, also called Hawkeye, is at the middle of his life. Brutal battles with the Iroquis and their French allies comprise the storyline. Revenge, the beauty of the unspoiled wilderness, and sorrow at its disappearance are the themes.

Defoe, Daniel

Robinson Crusoe


Surviving a shipwreck, the tile character lives on an island for 28 years with only his companion, Friday.

Dickens, Charles

David Copperfield


A sprawling portrait of life in Victorian England.

Dickens, Charles

Great Expectations


Pip secretly aids an escaped prisoner who later rewards him with a life of wealth.

Dickens, Charles

Oliver Twist


A tale of an orphan who escapes the workhouse only to fall among thieves in the urban squalor of 19th century London.

Dickens, Charles

Tale of Two Cities, A


Set in the midst of the French Revolution, this novel captures the tumult of the time interwoven with a love story.

Dostoevski, Fyodor

Crime and Punishment


A sensitive intellectual is driven by poverty to believe himself exempt from moral law.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor

Brothers Karamazov


A monumental novel about good and evil; considered the author's masterpiece.

Doyle, Arthur Conan

Hound of the Baskervilles, The


Sherlock Homes' best-known mystery. Set in the moors, a terrifying ghostly hound howls for blood.

Dreiser, Theodore

Sister Carrie


Small town girl comes to the big city, and is used by men and uses them to become a successful Broadway actress

du Maurier, Daphne



Gothic masterpiece about a young bride haunted by the spectre of her husband's first wife.

Dumas, Alexandre

Count of Monte Cristo, The


Originally published in French, the story of a man wrongly imprisoned, who escapes after 14 years to avenge himself on those who wronged him.

Dumas, Alexandre

Three Musketeers, The


Originally published in French, this story is about the adventures of four fictional swashbuckling heroes during the reign of Louis XIII and Louis XIV.

Eliot, George

Mill on the Floss


The tragic story of the affectionate Maggie Tulliver and her sober and intolerant brother.

Eliot, George

Silas Marner


A friendless weaver cares only for his gold until he finds an abandoned baby girl who he raises as his own child and is redeemed by his love for her.

Faulkner, William

Intruder in the Dust


The story of a murder mystery and race relations in the South.

Faulkner, William

Sound and the Fury, The


The story of the decay and fall of an aristocratic Southern family, told through four different points of view

Fielding, Henry

Tom Jones


A vivid picture of England in the mid-18th century, this story is a comic romance.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott

Tender is the Night


The semi-autobiographical novel of a psychiatrist who marries one of his patients; as she recovers, he disintegrates.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott

This Side of Paradise


First novel by Fitzgerald about the changes of the Jazz Age and the 1920's.

Flaubert, Gustav

Madame Bovary


A story of adultery; a bored middle-class wife sets out to achieve her romantic fantasies, and ends up in financial and psychological ruin.

Forster, E.M.

Passage to India, A


Clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century. Beautifully written story of a simple misunderstanding that turns into a tragedy.

Forster, E.M.

Room With a View, A


A privileged young British woman decides to marry for love even though her suitor is from a lower social class.

Greene, Graham

Power and the Glory, The


The story of a Catholic priest tortured by alcohol and fear.

Hardy, Thomas

Far From the Madding Crowd


Love and romance enliven a bleak country setting in this classic.

Hardy, Thomas

Mayor of Casterbridge, The


An English novel that follows the rise and fall of a man, the mayor of the fictional city of Casterbridge.

Hardy, Thomas

Return of the Native


An English novel that features a young man who has returned to England from France.

Hardy, Thomas

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


The tale of Tess Derbeyfield, a strong, young country girl who is betrayed by two selfish men.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel

House of the Seven Gables, The


Set in mid-19th-century Salem , Massachusetts, this book is a study in hereditary sin.

Heller, Joseph



A bitter, powerful, savagely funny account of WWII bombing missions.

Hemingway, Ernest

Farewell to Arms, A


World War I is the setting for this love story of an English nurse and a wounded American ambulance officer.

Hemingway, Ernest

For Whom the Bell Tolls


The epic story of Robert Jordan, who fought, love, and died with the anti-Fascist guerrillas of the Spanish Civil War.

Hemingway, Ernest

Old Man and the Sea, The


An old Cuban fisherman fights a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin.

Hemingway, Ernest

Sun Also Rises, The


The story of an expatriate newsman in the 1920's.

Henry, James

Turn of the Screw, The


One of the most famous ghost stories, told through the journals of a governess trying to save her two charges from demonic influences.

Hudson, W.H.

Green Mansions


An exotic romance set in the jungles of South America.

Hugo, Victor

Hunchback of Notre Dame, The


Set in 15th-century Paris, the novel evokes life in medieval Paris, and features, a hunch-back, a beautiful gypsy, and an evil archdeacon.

Hugo, Victor

Les Miserables


Originally published in French, this novel is set in the Parisian underworld. It follows Jean Valjean, a victim of society who was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, but eventually finds redemption.

Huxley, Aldous

Brave New World


In a chilling vision of the future, babies are produced in bottles and exist in a mechanized world without soul.

James, Henry

Portrait of a Lady, The


The study of a young American girl as she travels to Europe and becomes the victim of her own narrow provincialism.

James, Henry

Wings of the Dove, The


Set in London and Venice, this story features the clash between the naive Americans and the sophisticated, often decadent Europeans.

Kafka, Franz

Castle, The


A symbolic story about a surveyor adrift in an incomprehensible "castle."

Kafka, Franz

Trial, The


A respectable worker in a bank is suddenly arrested and spends the rest of his life fighting a charge against himself about which he can get no information.

Kipling, Rudyard

Captains Courageous


A spoiled rich boy is thrust into the tough world of the Grand Banks fishermen.

Kipling, Rudyard



An English boy raised as a native of India is led by a friend on an odyssey throughout the country.

Knowles, John

Separate Peace, A


The story of a friendship between two boys at an Eastern prep school during the early years of WWII.

Koestler, Arthur

Darkness at Noon


A novel that exposes the reality behind the great Russian state trials of the 1930's.

Lawrence, D.H.

Sons and Lovers


The story of an English coalmining family at the turn of the century, and the coming of age of one son, Paul.

Lee, Harper

To Kill a Mockingbird


A Young girl tells of life in a small Alabama town in the 1930s and her father's defense in court of an African American accused of raping a white woman.

Lewis, Sinclair



Doctor Arrowsmith finds pettiness and small minds an obstruction to progress.

Lewis, Sinclair



The story of Babbitt, the ultimate conformist.

Lewis, Sinclair

Main Street


Carol Kennicott is caught between her desires for social reform and individual happiness

London, Jack

Call of the Wild, The


The story of a heroic dog in the Klondike.

London, Jack

Sea Wolf, The


A vivid sea adventure.

Malory, Thomas

Morte D'Arthur


A medieval tale; an Arthurian romance. The first account of the Arthurian legend in English prose.

Maughom, Somerset

Of Human Bondage


A medical student's bondage to his own lameness and to his love for an unappreciative woman.

McCullers, Carson

Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The


A cross-section view of humanity in a Southern town.

McCullers, Carson

Member of the Wedding, The


A young Southern girl is determined to be the third party on a honeymoon, despite all advice.

Mitchell, Margaret

Gone With the Wind


Flaming epic of Civil War times.

Nordhoff, Charles

Mutiny on the Bounty


A vivid narrative based on an actual mutiny in 1789.

Orwell, George



A great modern classic of "negative utopia" with chilling implications for our own time.

Pasternak, Boris

Dr. Zhivago


Vivid story of Russia and its revolution along with a tale of an extraordinary love which endures hardship, tragedy, and time.

Rawlings, Marjorie

Yearling, The


A Pulitzer prize winning story of a 12-year-old boy and the fawn he adopts.

Rolvaag, O.E.

Giants in the Earth


A giant novel about the peasant immigrants who broke America to the plow.

Rostand, Edmond

Cyrano de Bergerac


The story of the finest swordsman of France, a gallant soldier, brilliant wit, and tragic lover with a huge nose.

Salinger, J.D.

Catcher in the Rye, The


Armed with sarcasm and daydreams, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield leaves his Pennsylvania prep school for New York City.

Saroyan, William

Human Comedy, The


Warm and captivating story of an American family in wartime.

Scott, Sir Walter



An adventure set in medieval England.

Scott, Sir Walter



An historical novel set in Elizabethan England.

Scott, Sir Walter

Rob Roy


A novel that celebrates the "primitive" highlander of the 1760's.

Shaw, George Bernard



A cockney flower girl is transformed into a lady by a professor of phonetics.

Shelley, Mary



A horror tale that questions the belief that science always leads to progress.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk

Quo Vadis?


Historical novel originally published in Polish. Set in ancient Rome, it tells the story of a love between a young Christian woman and a Roman officer.

Steinbeck, John

Cannery Row


A look at the conditions and lives of California migrant workers in Monterey.

Steinbeck, John

Grapes of Wrath, The


An Oklahoma farmer and his family leave the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression to go to the promised land of California.

Steinbeck, John

Of Mice and Men


Short-tempered George and child-like Lennie area mismatched pair who share a dream of owning a farm of their own.

Stevenson, Robert Louis



After being kidnapped by his villainous uncle, 16-year-old David Balfour escapes and becomes involved in the struggle of the Scottish highlanders.

Stevenson, Robert Louis

Treasure Island


A boy's coming-of-age story and an adventure with pirates and treasure.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher

Uncle Tom's Cabin


A dramatic story that focused on the plight of the slaves; often cited as one of the causes of the American Civil War.

Swift, Jonathan

Gulliver's Travels


Gulliver goes on four unusual voyages. Swift satirizes pride, selfishness, greed, and dishonesty.

Thackery, William Makepeace

Vanity Fair


A novel about early 19th-century English society. If offers many characters and a multi-layered view of the human condition.

Tolstoy, Leo

Anna Karenina


Sensual, rebellious Anna renounces respectable marriage and position for passion and freedom.

Tolstoy, Leo

Death of Ivan Ilyich


A high court judge comes face to face with his own mortality.

Turgenev, Ivan

Fathers and Sons


A Russian classic that studies the conflict between the generations.

Twain, Mark

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The


The setting is a small Mississippi River town in the 1830s, and the main character is Tom Sawyer, a mischievous and irresponsible but good-hearted boy.

Twain, Mark

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A


Hank Morgan, cracked on the head by a crowbar in 19th century Connecticut, wakes to find himself in King Arthur's England.

Twain, Mark

Innocents Abroad


A humorous travel narrative based on Twain's travels to Egypt, Europe, and the Holy Land.

Twain, Mark

Life on the Mississippi


A memoir of life on the Mississippi during the steamboat era and Twain's observations on greed, gullibility, tragedy, and bad architecture.

Verne, Jules

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


A 19th-century sci fi tale of an electric submarine, its eccentric captain, and the undersea world.

Verne, Jules

Around the World in 80 Days


Phileas Fogg's fantastic circling of the globe.




The adventures of Candide and Doctor Pangloss is a cynical trip through this "best of all possible worlds."

Warren, Robert Penn

All the King's Men


The story of politics and power in the 1930s in the American South

Well, H.G.

Time Machine, The


The Victorian time traveler finds a way to travel through time to the distant future.

Wharton, Edith

Age of Innocence, The


A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that presents a picture of upper-class New York society in the late 19th century.

Wharton, Edith

Ethan Frome


A simple New England farmer is trapped by forces he cannot control.

Wilder, Thornton

Bridge of San Luis Rey, The


A monk's quest to find meaning behind the deaths of 5 people from a Peruvian bridge collapse.

Wolfe, Thomas

Look Homeward, Angel


Powerful and poetic autobiographical novel by one of America's major literary figures.

Wolfe, Thomas

You Can't Go Home Again


An autobiographical novel that features the author's views on American society in the 1930's as he travels to Europe and back.