Some of the most famous American authors include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willa Cather, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. Most of the renowned American authors in history wrote stories about the things that make America unique.
In antebellum American literature, great American authors were universally born in East Coast states, predominantly in New England, and their writings are heavily flavored with America's colonial history. Nathaniel Hawthorne, for example, wrote fiction such as "The Scarlet Letter" that predominantly concerned colonial New England, particularly the Puritan tradition. Herman Melville is most famous for "Moby Dick," a story that relied heavily upon New England's whaling industry.
After the Civil War, the literary tradition expanded westward. Mark Twain, often hailed as the archetypal American writer, brought the American West to the world in his writings. While Twain wrote about American adventure, Willa Cather crafted tales of American immigrant and pioneer endurance. The writers of this generation shaped American nationalism, taking pride in a genuine American literature.
After the World War I, American writers focused more outward. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald placed Americans in Europe, traveling the world for different reasons. This "Lost Generation" of writers, deeply marked by the horrors of war, wrote stories filled with futility and despair. At the same time, writers like William Faulkner and Margaret Mitchell reflected the changing popular literary traditions in America. Following these iconic pieces, Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" set the tone for a new American realism in literature.