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Rave Reviews: Bestselling Fiction in America
University of Virginia Library
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Introduction to the Exhibit
The Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction
Making the Bestseller List
Making the List: Early Popoular Fiction
Making the List
Making the Bestseller List: Publishers and Publishing
Making the Bestseller List: Selected Bestsellers
Types of Bestsellers
Beyond the Book
Current Bestsellers
Readers Tell Their Stories
More on the Bestseller Phenomenon

Making the Bestseller List

Everything There is to Know:
Selected Bestsellers

The Bestsellers Database has been compiled by students in ENTC 312 (20th-Century American Literature; spring 1998, 1999, and 2000) and ENLT 226M (Studies in Fiction; fall 1999) at the University of Virginia, and students in Library Science 601 (History of the Book; spring 1999) at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

In each of these courses, each student selected one work from the list of top annual fiction bestsellers from 1900-1994, and then contributed to the database a series of assignments on that work, including a bibliographic description of a first edition, a publishing history, a biographical sketch of the author, a reception history, and finally, either a critical essay or a full-text electronic edition. Students were encouraged, but not required, to choose works included in the Taylor collection or otherwise held in Special Collections.

Their database entries are freely available on the Web, and they can be browsed by title, author, or the name of the student researcher, and many of their entries include digital images of cover art, sample pages, advertising, and other related materials.


Bestsellers Database:


Audio clip

From the Modern Language Association radio show "What's the Word?" describing John Unsworth's Twentieth-century American Literature class.


Real Audio



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