Best Short Stories Collection

Reference: BEST SHORT STORIES COLLECTION                    Date: 1916-1995                    Extent: c. 130 volumes

The Best Short Stories series began in 1915 with Edward O’Brien’s selection of the finest short stories published in 1914. The first instalment was published serially in a magazine, but it was quickly picked up for publication in book form. O’Brien’s selection process was extensive, he was said to read 8,000 stories per year, and highlighted the up-and-coming writers of two generations, including Sherwood Anderson, Irwin Shaw, and Ernest Hemingway. The collections were popular but often criticised for their obscurity. O’Brien aimed to draw attention to experimental literature, discrediting popular short fiction, and sought to develop the literary potential of the form.  

After O’Brien’s death in 1941, Martha Foley, founder and editor of Story magazine, took over. In 1978, after Foley’s death, the series took a new direction. Each year, a different writer would select the stories and write the introduction for the collection. Some notable guest editors are John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stephen King. The anthology continues to be published annually.  

Here at Reading we hold more than 100 copies of the anthology, including copies of the later “Best British Short Stories” series (1922-1939).

This collection was donated to the Library as part of the Edward J. O’Brien Collection.


The entire collection is searchable via our online catalogue.