Great Short Stories of the English Speaking World (Vol. 1) is one book that brings to readers 'Best of the Best' in the world of short fiction. Published first in 1977, in hard cover by The Reader's Digest Association, it is an anthology of fifty one masterly written stories by some of the world's most celebrated authors. Among these are names as Jack London, D.H. Lawrence, Eudora Welty, Somerset Maugham, Edgar Alan Poe, Frank Stockton, Ernest Hemingway, and so on.
In her introduction to the book, Rumer Godden regards the astonishing variety of the stories as the most striking aspect of the collection. And this accords with almost every element of the anthology. Thematically, the stories sweep a remarkable range from Carson McCullers' fears of an insecure kid (The Haunted Boy), to Margaret Drabble's heart-felt memories of love (The Reunion), and Jack London's frailty of man in the openness of nature (To Build a Fire).
The stories have a sundry style, from W.S. Maugham's character-centered Louise, to Marc Connelly's Coroner's Inquest with abstract characters, and Ring Lardner's epistolary I Can't Breathe. Narration too varies from tale to tale.
The most elegant feature of the anthology however comes in the form of its semantic richness. Virtually no part of human existence remains untouched in one or another of these literary pieces; be it the reshuffling of a dormant consciousness (Eudora Welty's The Key), the tragedy of war (Bates' The Young Man from Kalgoorlie), or the learning of a young one to live on its own (O'Flaherty's His First Flight).
Certainly these stories are deep in the context of their meanings but that does not imply their being all somber or overly serious. The Magic Shop, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Lumber Room, and the fantastic The Lady or the Tiger are some of those stories that engage the reader thoroughly in their witty and superb weavings of the plot.
Finally, Great Short Stories of the English Speaking World is for all audiences. With Kipling's The Elephant's Child to Joy Cowley's The Silk, one book has bridged the reading interests of three generations.
And yes, at the end of the book, there is also a list of short biographical notes for every author in the collection;
In one sentence, this is the English Short Story World for a short fiction lover whether a beginner or an erudite.