Sherwood Anderson Short Stories

Winesburg, Ohio

These stories all take place in the same town. Most of them feature George Willard, and there are other recurring characters as well.

“The Book of the Grotesque” | 1,165 words

An old writer wants his bed raised so he’ll be able to see the trees out of his high windows when he wakes up. As the old man lies in bed he sees a procession of grotesques—all the people he’s ever known.

Read “The Book of the Grotesque”

“Hands” | 2,350 words

Wing Biddlebaum, an old man, lives in isolation in Winesburg. He’s been there twenty years, but his only friend is a young reporter, George Willard. Years ago he was a teacher in Pennsylvania. He spent a lot of time with his students. A boy made an accusation against him which caused the citizens to run Wing out of town.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“Paper Pills” | 1,260 words

Reefy is an old man with a huge nose and hands. He used to be a doctor. He married a wealthy woman who inherited a large farm. She died within a year of their union. We hear the story of Reefy and how he came to meet the woman.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“Mother” | 3,250 words

Elizabeth and Tom Willard run a shabby boarding house. It’s always on the verge of failure. Elizabeth, gaunt and listless, does the work of a chambermaid. Tom is a prominent Democrat in a Republican community. He views himself as a success even though he’s not. Elizabeth doesn’t want her son, George, to be a drab figure nor does she want him to be really successful.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“The Philosopher” | 2,630 words

Doctor Parcival has been in Winesburg about five years but his practice is still very small. He wants it that way. He has plenty of money. He tells George Willard his personal history. He was a reporter and a minister and came from a troubled family.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“Nobody Knows” | 1,230 words

George leaves work carefully just before eight at night. He’s nervous; there’s been something on his mind all day. He surreptitiously makes his way through the back alley and the streets. His motivation for this adventure was a letter he had received earlier that day.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“Godliness”

Part 1

The Bentley family worked hard on their farm. During the Civil War, all of the Bentley sons are killed, except Jesse who is away, studying to be a minister. His father, Tom, sends for him to come home. Jesse is small and slight but succeeds in driving everyone to work hard. His father turns the farm over to him.

This four-part story tells the tale of the Bentley family.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.

“Sophistication” | 3,350 words

The Winesburg County Fair is on, bringing many people into town. George doesn’t feel a connection to his fellow townspeople but he is interested in Helen, the banker’s daughter. They’ve grown up together. She wants to escape small-town life. George feels like a man now and wants to move to a big city. He wants to tell Helen about these feelings.

“Sophistication”

“The Strength of God” | 3,200 words

Reverend Curtis Hartman is the pastor of a Presbyterian Church. Not being a natural speaker, he puts much work into his two Sunday sermons which includes earnestly praying for God’s help. One Sunday morning while in the bell tower he looks out the window. He can see a woman in the upper room of the house next door.

Read “The Strength of God”

The Triumph of the Egg

“The Dumb Man” | (very short)

The narrator knows a story but can’t tell it. He has the characters—three men in a room downstairs, and a woman upstairs. A fourth man then arrives.

This story can be read in the preview of Triumph of the Egg and Other Stories.

“Brothers”

The narrator lives at his country house, twenty miles from Chicago. There is an old man in the area that the people call insane. When the old man hears a news story he always claims to be related to the person in question. The Chicago papers are reporting that a man murdered his wife for no apparent reason.

This is the second story in the preview of 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.

“The Egg” | 4,600 words

A thirty-five year old farmhand gets married, has a child, and decides he should rise in the world. The family raises chickens and opens a restaurant to meet their goals.

“The Egg”

“I Want to Know Why” | 4,100 words

A teenage boy in small-town Kentucky loves horses and horse racing. He tries to make sense of an incident that affected him deeply.

“I Want to Know Why”

“The Other Woman” | 3,550 words

A man tells a story to an acquaintance about the events during the week before he married. He became fixated on a woman who ran the newspaper stand that he frequented.

This story can be read in the preview of 100 Great American Short Stories(31% into preview)

“The Man in the Brown Coat” | 1,025 words

A historian writes while his wife works around the house and goes about her daily routine. The man is much more comfortable with books and writing than he is with his wife.

“The Man in the Brown Coat”

Horses and Men

“I’m a Fool” | 4,800 words

A nineteen-year-old horse groomer buys some fancy cigars and sits in the grandstand at the races. He meets a young woman and they spend some time together.

“I’m a Fool”


“Stolen Day” | 1,775 words

The narrator remembers a boy in his area who had inflammatory rheumatism, which prevented him from going to school but didn’t interfere with going fishing. The narrator passes him one morning on his way to school. His back and legs begin to hurt; by recess he is aching all over.

“Stolen Day”