The importance of the short story was very well understood even in 1741 when earliest American magazines like Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine, and Historical Chronicle published shorter fiction. One may remember that “The Story of the Captain’s Wife and an Aged woman” was published as early as 1789 in Gentleman and Lady’s Town and Country Magazine. Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. appeared in the United States in 1815, and his Tales of a Traveller appeared in England (1824).
The early 19th century saw full blossoming of short fiction with the arrival of Hawthorne and Poe on
The ever-increasing popularity of the short story in the 20th and 21st centuries is primarily due to the brevity of the genre in comparison with long novels. Our civilization today obsessed with hectic speed is unable to provide us sufficient leisure to read extremely long novels.
That is why we find in the 20th century a great number of short-story writers like O. Henry, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Edith Wharton, John Steinbeck, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, Beattie, Carver, John Updike, and several others. Vince Passaro aptly remarks: “Today’s American short fiction is more various, more successfully experimental, more urban and more bitingly ironic than that written in the Hemingway tradition.”