Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World
The Wide, Wide World is an 1850 novel by Susan Warner. It was published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Wetherell, and is often called America's first bestseller. This text went through fourteen editions in two years, and may ultimately have been as popular as Uncle Tom's Cabin with nineteenth-century American readers. At the beginning of the novel, Ellen Montgomery is driven from her home. She travels through the world and encounters a variety of difficult circumstances. Through these challenges, she begins to craft an identity based on Christian values and principles. The book ends on the verge of her adulthood and marriage, which was the only acceptable form of maturity for a young girl at the time. This book is a textbook example of domestic fiction, and was largely forgotten until recently. Read the short first five chapters to get a sense of this work. While you are reading, identify the generic traits of the domestic novel.