20th-Century American Bestsellers

The 20th-Century American Bestsellers Database consists of work done by undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia, the University of Illinois, Catholic University, and Brandeis University, from 1998 to the present.

Most Recent Syllabus

For more information, contact John Unsworth, Department of English, Brandeis University


"We shall not busy ourselves with what men ought to have admired, what they ought to have written, what they ought to have thought, but with what they did think, write, admire."
-- A History of Criticism, George Saintsbury (cribbed from Alice Hackett, 70 Years of Best Sellers)


<--Photo by Erin Garvey


Browse the Bestsellers Database

Bestseller Lists by Decade:

1900-19091910-19191920-19291930-19391940-1949
1950-19591960-19691970-19791980-19891990-1999


See also:

  • An interview describing this class (from the MLA's radio show "What's the Word"), downloadable in in MP3 format (7.3 MB)
  • An exhibition on bestselling American fiction curated in 2002 by Linda Clendenning and John Unsworth, abbreviated and refreshed in 2013 by Melinda Baumann, Hoke Perkins, Mercy Quintos Procaccini, Melissa Ragain, and John Unsworth.
  • Credits and Acknowledgments

  • Bestsellers
    Department of English, Brandeis University
    Maintained by unsw...@brandeis.edu