Places Discussed


Winesburg. Ohio village of some one thousand inhabitants. All two dozen stories in Winesburg, Ohio are set in Winesburg, a small town probably based on Clyde, Ohio, where Anderson lived as a young boy. One of the qualities that makes Winesburg a novel rather than a simple collection of stories is that the village setting is constant, and the same characters (especially the central character, George Willard) wander through it in different stories. In most editions of the novel, a map of the town’s layout faces the title page and shows its two main roads, Main and Buckeye Streets, the railroad tracks, and the eight most important structures in the town, including the railroad station, the New Willard House hotel, the office of the Winesburg Eagle, and the fairground. Winesburg is like any small midwestern village: Surrounded by farms, it is the regional center of commercial and social life.

The stories concern several of the prominent citizens of the town, including two doctors (Reefy and Parcival), the Presbyterian minister (Reverend Curtis Hartman), and a schoolteacher (Kate Swift). Most of the characters in the stories are lonely, estranged from their fellow townspeople, and incapable of expressing their inner, often neurotic longings. Part of the “revolt from the village” movement in American letters at the beginning of the twentieth century—a literary movement which included poet Edgar Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology, 1915) and novelist Sinclair Lewis (Main Street, 1920)—Anderson showed the isolation and frustration of...

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Historical Context

The First World War
World War I was the first of two conflicts in this century to draw most of what is referred to as Western...

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Literary Style

Winesburg, Ohio is most noticeably a series of short stories, each one capable of making sense if read...

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Literary Techniques

Although Anderson was a superb literary craftsman of the short story, his major contribution was the originality of setting and style. He was...

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Social Concerns

One biographer says of Anderson that he often "becomes the unnamed spectator in his own books, a charmed and delighted visitor on earth" and...

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Compare and Contrast

1919: Soldiers coming back from World War I had experienced massive destruction in the age of airplanes and automation. Because...

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Topics for Further Study

The characters in Winesburg, Ohio are very specific to their place and time. Write a short story that brings one of these characters...

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Related Titles

The puzzle in Anderson's literary career, according to biographer Walter B. Rideout, is the "apparent suddenness with which, so near the...

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Some of the stories in Winesburg, Ohio were recorded (1983) and are available on the Caedmon label. E. G. Marshall plays "The...

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Media Adaptations

There are three different versions of a "Winesburg, Ohio" audio cassette available: from the Audio Bookshelf, 1995; from Recorded...

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What Do I Read Next?

Edgar Lee Masters' 1915 collection of free-verse poems, Spoon River Anthology, was one of the most direct influences on Winesburg,...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Sherwood Anderson, Sherwood Anderson's Memoirs, edited by Ray Lewis White, The University of North Carolina...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Burbank, Rex. Sherwood Anderson. Boston: Twayne, 1964. This accessible study of Anderson’s life and work provides a fine introduction to his first novel.

Crowley, John W., ed. New Essays on Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Presents a variety of critical points of view and provides a forum of interpretative methods about Winesburg, Ohio.

Dewey, Joseph. “No God in the Sky and No God in Myself: ‘Godliness’ and Anderson’s Winesburg.” Modern Fiction Studies 35, no. 2 (Summer, 1989): 251-259. Dewey’s essay searches the novel for its religious...

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