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In the article, 18th Century Literature for a Rainy Day , I discussed the authors and some of the literature that you can read on rainy days. Now I am going to show you some of the most popular book that were popular in America during the first half of the 18th Century.  Some of these works are available on this site in the 18th Century History Etext Archive section. The other works you can find on the Internet,at either the Project Gutenberg or the Internet archive websites. I included links to these works so that you can read them yourself. 

The first five books in this list were published in the later years of the 17th century.  I included these in the list because these works contributed in their own way to the development of American society and American political thought.

1678 -- The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, is a christian allegory, originally published in February 1678. This classic is regarded as one of the most significant English religious Literary works in history. It has been translated into more than 200 languages and is still in print. Bunyon began writing this classic while he was in prison for violations of the Conventicle Act. This act forbade the holding of Religious services outside the auspices of the Church of England.

1682 -- Narratives of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, also known as The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. Mary (White) Rowlandson was a colonial American woman who was captured during an attack by Native Americans during King Philip's War and held ransom for 11 weeks. After being released, she wrote about her experience. It is a work in the literary genre of captivity narratives. It is considered to be one of America's first bestsellers, four editions appearing in 1682 when it was first published.

1683 -- The New England Primer by Benjamin Harris. The New England Primer was the first reading primer designed for the American Colonies. It became the most successful educational textbook published in 18th century America and it became the foundation of most schooling before the 1790s. In the 17th century, the schoolbooks in use had been brought over from England. By 1690, Boston publishers were reprinting the English Protestant Tutor under the title of The New England Primer. The Primer included additional material that made it widely popular with colonial schools until it was supplanted by Noah Webster's Blue Back Speller after 1790.

1690 -- Treatise of civil government by John Locke.  The Second Treatise Of Government is more well known than the first one. Edes and Gill publishers of Boston Mass., published the American edition in 1773

1693 -- Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather  - Wonders of the Invisible World was a book published in 1693 by Cotton Mather, defending Mather's role in the witch hunt conducted in Salem, Massachusetts, and espousing the belief that witchcraft was an evil magical power. Mather saw witches as tools of the devil in Satan's battle to "overturn this poor plantation, the Puritan colony", and prosecution of witches as a way to secure God's blessings for the colony.

1715-1720 Iliad by Alexander Pope -- Alexander Pope translated Homer's Classic work from 1715 to 1720. "Homer is universally allowed to have had the greatest invention of any writer whatever. The praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretensions as to particular excellences; but his invention remains yet unrivalled. Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been acknowledged the greatest of poets, who most excelled in that which is the very foundation of poetry." Source: Pope's introduction to his translation of the Iliad.

1719 -- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe first published on 25 April 1719.  This fictional book is based upon the real life person Alexander Selkirk,  a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on the Pacific island called "Más a Tierra", now part of Chile, which was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.

1726 -- Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, is a satire by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the "travellers' tales" literary sub genre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.

1727 -- History of the Five Indian Nations by Cadwallader Colden The Five Nations (as their Name denotes) consist of so many Tribes or Nations, joined together by a League or Confederacy, like the United Provinces, and without any Superiority of the one over the other. This Union has continued so long, that the Christians know nothing of the Original of it: The People in it are known by the English under the Names of Mohawks, Oneydoes, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas.  

1733 - 1747 -- Poor Richard's Almanack, by Benjamin Franklin was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of "Poor Richard" or "Richard Saunders" for this purpose. The publication appeared continually from 1732 to 1758. It was a best seller for a pamphlet published in the American colonies. 

1733-34 -- An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope "Having proposed to write some pieces of Human Life and Manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon’s expression) come home to Men’s Business and Bosoms, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State; since, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being."

1740-41 -- Pamela by Samuel Richardson This novel (published 1740) created an epoch in the history of English fiction, and, with its successors, exerted a wide influence upon Continental literature. It is appropriately included in a series which is designed to form a group of studies of English life by the masters of English fiction. For it marked the transition from the novel of adventure to the novel of character—from the narration of entertaining events to the study of men and of manners, of motives and of sentiments. In it the romantic interest of the story (which is of the slightest) is subordinated to the moral interest in the conduct of its characters in the various situations in which they are placed. Upon this aspect of the "drama of human life" Richardson cast a most observant, if not always a penetrating glance. His works are an almost microscopically detailed picture of English domestic life in the early part of the eighteenth century.

1742 -- Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding "Joseph Andrews, or The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, was the first published full-length novel of the English author and magistrate Henry Fielding, and indeed among the first novels in the English language. Published in 1742 and defined by Fielding as a 'comic epic poem in prose', it is the story of a good-natured footman's adventures on the road home from London with his friend and mentor, the absent-minded parson Abraham Adams."  In two Volumes: Volume 1   Volume 2 

1743 -- The Grave by Robert Blair is a blank verse poem by the Scottish poet Robert Blair.It is the work for which he is primarily renowned. The poem, 767 lines long, is an exemplar of what became known as the school of graveyard poetry. (image: Illustrations to Robert Blair's The Grave , object 16 Death's Door by Blake 1805) Poem.

1747-48 -- Clarissa Harlowe by Samuel Richardson is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, published in 1748. It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is one of the longest novels in the English language. It is generally regarded as Richardson's masterpiece. 

1749 -- Tom Jones by Henry Fielding  is a comic novel by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. The novel is both a Bildungsroman and a picaresque novel. First published on 28 February 1749 in London, Tom Jones is among the earliest English prose works describable as a novel. available at: 


The source of this list is on page 785 from the Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium, published in 1971 by Merriam-Webster; and Edited by Charles Lincoln Van Doren, Robert McHenry. Copyright,1971 by Encyclopedia Britannica. You can find this book in the Reference Section at your local library. You can also read the full list online.