Lyle H. Wright, a librarian at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, created a bibliography of American fiction from the years 1851–1875, published as American Fiction 1851–1875: A Contribution Toward a Bibliography (San Marino, CA: The Huntington Library, 1957; revised 1965). He listed a total of 2,923 titles in adult fiction, including "novels, novelettes, romances, short stories, tall tales, tract-like tales, allegories, and fictitious biographies and travels, in prose" (from the introduction), and inventoried 18 American libraries for holdings. This compilation is part of his three-volume set listing American fiction from 1774 through 1900, and is considered the most comprehensive bibliography of American adult fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries.

American fiction was still in its infancy in the years 1851–1875, but this period saw publication of works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Dean Howells, and Herman Melville. Many of these authors, especially Twain, Harte and Howells, had just begun their writing careers during this period and went on to write their best known work later. However, most of the authors contained in the bibliography are little known. This period - a momentous one in American history - provides the foundation for later American literature, and this digital collection of 2,887 titles allows insight into American literature, culture, and history otherwise unattainable.

The Wright American Fiction project is still heavily referenced and often sought for data mining and textual analysis. In continuing support of readers and researchers, the project was recently migrated to ensure ongoing, optimal access to the digital content.

Stowe image from National Archives and Records Administration Commons.
Harte and Howells images from Google Books via Wikimedia Commons.
Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain images from the Library of Congress.