Wilbur Daniel Steele Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Between 1914 and 1955, Wilbur Daniel Steele published ten novels, none of which achieved any critical success or extended life. Despite his early association with the Provincetown Players, his several attempts at writing plays came to nothing. Much of the popular success of Steele’s short stories derived from his manipulation of the O. Henry ending, a knack that does not transport to other genres.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Of Wilbur Daniel Steele’s nearly two hundred published short stories, nine were included in the annual collection The Best American Short Stories, and eleven won various O. Henry story awards. One story, “How Beautiful with Shoes,” was not only chosen for The Best American Short Stories 1933 but also produced as a Broadway play in 1935.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Bucco, Martin. Wilbur Daniel Steele. New York: Twayne, 1972. This volume in the Twayne series provides an introduction, conclusion, and indispensable bibliography. Seven chapters of summary and commentary discuss the seven collections of stories in chronological order.

Elser, Frank B. “Oh, Yes Wilbur Daniel Steele.” The Bookman 62 (February, 1926): 691-694. An interview that gives a good picture of Steele as a person and insight into his writing practices.

Gelb, Arthur, and Barbara Gelb. O’Neill. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960. This biography of Eugene O’Neill describes the circumstances of life at Provincetown when Steele was there and alludes to Steele’s friendship with O’Neill.

Mirrielees, Edith R. “The Best of Steele.” A review of The Best Stories of Wilbur Daniel Steele, by Wilbur Daniel Steele. New York Times (July 14, 1946), pp. 5, 20. This review provides an overall assessment of his work.

Peterson, Theodore. Magazines in the Twentieth Century. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964. Does not treat Steele directly but explains the editorial policies of his publishers.

Williams, Blanche Colton. Our Short Story Writers. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1926. One chapter appraises Steele’s work.