This is our list of 1000 Great Short Stories of All Time. To the best of my knowledge no list, book, film or otherwise exists like this one. This will be the first list of it’s kind, ever, again as far as I know. In doing a first list you really hope to do it best, but with a 1000 stories on the list, it will make doing it well very difficult, so, as with our list of poems, we need your help. Please make suggestions in the comments section. We want to get 1000, right now we are in the 80s, so this isn’t going to be easy. I’ve seen a lot of top 50 list for short stories, but top 1000 is again, unheard of.
Why do a list like this? It’s pretty simple really, guidelines. It helps people find great short stories they want to read. It also, we hope, will help with a consensus. Right now if I say name the top 10 short stories of all time, you’ll get 10 different answers from 10 different writers. When you say, what about story X, those 10 writers would likely say well it’s one of the greatest, but not in my top 10. So I’m not trying to make a list of 1000 greatest short stories that put Poe at 1 now and forever. I’m creating a list that people can point to and say, I agree, it might not be number 10 on the list, but it is among the 1000 best of all time. To that end we don’t have to worry about the exact order. We just have to come up with 1000 great stories.
They should, I think, be measured simply right now, what stories have you read that have either stood the test of time or WILL stand the test of time. Developing criteria I think should come later too. Right now we are look for 1000 stories, when we hit 2000 suggestions I’ll worry about definitive list of criteria.
In expanding this list of great short stories, I thought I would talk about some of the reasons for doing this list. We know have 1000 Great Stories that are the stepping stones to 1000 Greatest Short Stories of all time. This list may be impossible to create, but we are looking for stories that speak to people, that teach something that have a message that has larger insight into who we all are. As a readers we know the stories that speak to us. We know stories that have changed us. We know stories that have we want to share with everyone we know. These are the stories we are looking for. After all, these great stories are determined by us. In expanding this list of great short stories, I thought I would talk about some of the reasons for doing this list. We know have 1000 Great Stories that are the stepping stones to 1000 Greatest Short Stories of all time. This list may be impossible to create, but we are looking for stories that speak to people, that teach something that have a message that has larger insight into who we all are. As a readers we know the stories that speak to us. We know stories that have changed us. We know stories that have we want to share with everyone we know. These are the stories we are looking for. After all, these great stories are determined by us.
So help us out. I want to see if this can be done. Any suggestions are welcome. Here is the list of the first 80 or so, I’ll come up with 100 more soon, and I will add any suggestions to the list that I agree with. Also, please have some fun with this. Any misspellings or mistakes, feel free to point them out.
We also publish some great short stories right here on our site. If you are looking for stories written by classic writers or writers living today, please visit EWR: Short Stories.
1000 Greatest Stories of All Time
1. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
2. A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka
3. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Beirce
4. Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
5. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
6. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
7. The Rockinghorse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
9. The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
10. The Swimmer by John Cheever
11. The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams
12. The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
13. A & P by John Updike
14. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, by Ernest Hemingway
15. A Day’s Wait by Ernest Hemingway
16. A FIGHT WITH A CANNON by Victor Hugo
17. A LONELY RIDE by Bret Harte
18. A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
19. A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
20. A Passion in the Desert, by Honoré de Balza
21. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
22. A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury
23. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
24. ARABY by James Joyce
25. Borges and I by Jorge Luis Borges
26. Boys and Girls by Alice Monro
27. Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolf
28. Cathedral by Raymond Carver
29. Dead Man’s Path by Chinua Achebe
30. Died and Gone to Vegas by Tim Gautreaux
31. Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED? by Leo Tolstoy
34. How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) by Junot Díaz
35. I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen.
36. I Want to Live! by Thom Jones
37. I, Robot by Issac Asimov
38. Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
39. MY RED CAP by Louisa M. Alcott
40. Nine Stories by JD Salinger
41. Paul’s Case by Willa Cather
42. PRESENT AT A HANGING by Ambrose Bierce
43. Rape Fantasies by Margaret Atwood
44. That Evening Sun, by William Faulkner
45. THE BET by Anton Chekhov
46. The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson
47. THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY by Mark Twain
48. THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON by F. Scott Fitzgerald
49. THE DEVIL AND TOM WALKER by Washington Irving
50. The Door, by E. B Whit
51. THE FALSE GEMS by Guy De Maupassant
52. THE FORTIETH FRENCH ASCENT OF MONT BLANC by Jules Verne
53. The Garden Party by Kathleen Mansfield
54. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
55. The Hitch-Hikers by Eudora Welty
56. THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW by Washington Irving
57. THE MAGIC SHOP by H. G. Wells
58. The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling
59. THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
60. THE Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
61. THE NIGHT FACE-UP by JULIO CORTAZAR
62. The Open Boat, by Stephen Crane
63. The Other Side of the Hedge by E.M. Forster
64. The Other Woman by Sherwood Anderson
65. The Outcasts of Poker Flat, by Bret Harte
66. THE REAL THING by Henry James
67. The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle
68. The Resemblance Between a Vilin Case and a Coffin by Tennessee Williams
69. The Russian Prioner by Ha Jin
70. The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
71. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway
72. THE SISTERS by James Joyce
73. THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allen Poe
74. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
75. THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
76. Thom Jones, The Pugilist at Rest
77. To Build a Fire by Jack London
78. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? By Joyce Carol Oates:
79. Why Don’t You Dance by Raymond Carver (Film)
80. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver
81. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
82. Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace
83. The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
84. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
85. Menseteung by Alice Munro
86. The Lady with the Dog by Anton Chekov
87. The Fall of the House of Usher’s by Edgar Allan Poe
88. Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe
89. The Call of Cthullhu by H.P. Lovecraft
90. Soldier’s home by Ernest Hemingway
91. A Day’s Wait by Ernest Hemingway
92. Paul’s Case by Willa Carther
93. The Last Leaf by O. Henry
94. Haircut by Ring Lardner
95. Désirée’s’s Baby by Kate Chopin
96. Barn Burning by William Faulkner
97. Why I Live at the PO by Eudora Welty
98. Chickamauga by Thomas Wolfe
99. There Will Come Soft Rain by Ray Bradbury
100. The Lady and the Tiger by Ray Bradbury
mike whitney says
1. “The Dead,” James Joyce; Last two paragraphs constitute, to many, some of the most beautiful writing in our language.
2. “Odour of Chrysanthemums,” D H Lawrence. Death of a husband; Defines loneliness and the feeling of profound isolation and separateness of each of us possibly better than anything ever written.
3. “Dry September,” Wm. Faulkner – the evil that is latent in us all.
4. “Winter Dreams,” Scott Fitzgerald; The loss of our most cherished youthful hopes.
5. “A Christmas Memory,” Truman Capote; the strength of love and deepest friendship even in the permanency of profound loss and change. A beautiful story.
6. “The Sojourner,” Carson McCullers; the consequences of a wasted life due to fear of commitment.
7. “In Football Season,” John Updike; A fond and bright reflection of happy high school memories and friendships. Anyone who enjoyed their high school years will find happy reminiscence here.
8. “The Land and the Water,”; Shirley Anne Grau; a child’s first understanding of death, and the effect it has on her. Superb.
9. “The Monkey’s Paw;” WW Jacobs; the classic and finest ghost story ever written.
10. “Shaving,” Leslie Norris (Welsh); A devoted teenage son ministers lovingly to his beloved, but dying, father. A good death, if ever such can be.
11. “The Last Lesson,”; by Daudet (French writer) A teacher in a provincial town delivers his final lesson just before victorious Prussian soldiers come in to take charge of the schools and mandate teaching of German language and culture.
12. “Seven Floors,” Dino Buzatti. A man admitted to a hospital for minor illness sees his condition continually diagnosed as unaccountably worsening amidst a cold and sterile environment. Indictment of modern isolation and technology.
13. “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket,” by Kawabata (Japan) – the most moving story of childhood innocence and joy I have ever read.
14, “Discovery of a Father,” Sherwood Anderson; A young boy thinks his father nothing but a clown until a late night swim together opens his eyes to the dignity and fineness of his dad.
15. “Flight” John Steinbeck – a young Mexican boy must become a man quickly after knifing a man out of hot, angry pride. The description of his flight on horseback from a pursuing posse through the West Mexican wilds and mountains is a thrilling story.
16. “My Oedipus Complex,” Frank O’Connor; A happy young boy quickly becomes very unhappy when his father (whom he’s too young to have met before) returns from four years of war replacing the boy in his mother’s attentions. Very humorous.
17. “The First Death of Her Life,” Elizabeth Taylor (NOT the actress, but a superb English short story writer.) A teenage girl’s confrontation with the death of her mother, and the grief shared with her father.
This is a worthy endeavor which may even lead to some excellent anthologies resulting in a wider variety of stories than is typically seen. We wish you the best.
Jannetta Vairin says
Hunters in the snow by Tobias Wolf, Desirees Baby by Kate chopin The River by Flannery O’Connor
Heidi B says
Revelation by Flannery O Connor, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky by Stephen Crane
Pam Hall says
August 1, 2019
Hello Every Writer (& Reader),
I’m looking for an old short story I read over 20 years ago in an old (lost) textbook that contained compilations of short stories, essays and other writings. I don’t when the story was actually written or published. And, of course, I don’t remember the title or the author. I’ve been on a futile search. No luck with a university librarian or a public librarian. I’ve searched this and other sites, as well.
With all the readers & writers on this website, I’m hoping someone can help me identify and find this story. A brief description:
It was about a man who lived all his life in the same village and when he died was buried in the local cemetery. The story is about how he was remembered and then ultimately, over the passage of time, his existence was erased.
I don’t remember for sure but I think it was set somewhere in Europe maybe in 1800’s. He was a carpenter and furniture maker. There were examples of how the memory of him and his existence on earth, eventually disappeared in the years following his death:
1. A desk he had built for a customer was being moved and the old hand-written paid receipt he had given his customer flew out of a drawer and blew away. The rain washed away his writing. That was the last of anything he had ever written.
2. An old woman lay dying and she remembered a young man she had once known – that was the last time he was ever thought of by another person.
3. One cold and cruel winter, the wooden cross on his grave was stolen and used for firewood. That was the last remaining sign he had ever existed.
Appreciate anyone’s help!! Thank you.
mike whitney says
Wonderful story, Pam. Now I, too, wish I knew the title. Doesn’t sound American or British. Perhaps Russian; maybe French ? If you find out, please post.
You need to travel the world through short stories. I suggest you read more German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Chinese writers (among the more or less well-known literatures), but if you really want to dig deeper, look for Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Polishs, Czechs, Ukrainians, Swedishs, Danes, Dutchs, Koreans, Brazilians, Mexicans, Angolans, Mozambicans and Indians writers. At least these. I assure you that in each of these literatures you will find not only short stories that will go to a list of a thousand, but even to a list of top 100. Greetings from Brazil!
Martin G. says
Seeing no John Wyndham here:- Chronoclasm, Meteor, Opposite Number
I can find Stockton’s story but not Bradbury.
100. The Lady and the Tiger by Ray Bradbury
“The Lady or the Tiger?” Frank Stockton