Indiana fiction free books. Novels set in Indiana or by Indiana authors. Some take place in Indianapolis. Hundreds of ebooks, vintage & modern, many genres.
Mythology & Folklore
Great Lakes States
Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Sometimes they have two or more copies.
Books set in Indiana. This group of 60+ modern books by major publishers, free and online, was found in a search for ‘Indiana Fiction’ in the Internet Archive book collection. The metadata in their database entries indicates that these are books that take place in Indiana. Be patient as the page loads. Some authors are: Karen Kingsbury, Jean Shepherd, Gail Giles, Gene Stratton-Porter, Shirley Jump, Jeanne M. Dams, Kate Collins, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Sara Hoskinson Frommer, Franklin Dixon, Jason Robert Brown, Michael Martone, M. E. Rabb, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Susan Lewis, Juanita Coulson, Philip Gulley, Maris Soule, Joe L. Hensley, Joshua Elder, Jo Ann Ferguson, Edward Kelsey Moore.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1905
Andy Adams (1859-1935) was born in Whitley County, IN and raised on a family farm, but left for Texas as a young man, where he spent 10 years as a cowhand. From there he went to Colorado to try mining. At some point he took up writing and produced several successful books.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1921
Grace Caroline Alexander (1872-?) was born in Indianapolis, and was a teacher in the public schools there for many years. From 1891 to 1903 she also was a music critic and editorial writer for the Indianapolis News, and after 1904, a reader for the book publisher Bobbs-Merrill.
NY: Grossett & Dunlap 1906
Boston: Bobbs-Merrill 1919
The scene of the story is laid in Indiana in the late forties of the last century. The hero is a young man known as the Pearlhunter to his companions along the Wabash and he himself does not know his own name. Ever since he can remember he has lived with his mother among the pearl fishers. She is a woman of refinement, but he knows nothing of her past. She tells him part of her history, but her death cuts it short, and he goes out into the world nameless. The story has to do with the unraveling of this mystery and with the adventures that follow his finding of the wonderful pearl, known as the Blue Moon.
“This is a reckless swashbuckling story indeed. But there is very little false sentiment in it. It is human but never trite.”
– The Book Review Digest. Books set in Indiana.
Chicago: Schulte 1891
Dwight Le Roy Armstrong (1854-1927) was born in Plymouth, IN and was educated in the local schools. He attended Indiana University for a time, but left to take a newspaper job. After working as a reporter he became a newspaper editor in Lafayette for 10 years, leaving in 1905 for Salt Lake City, where he continued to edit newspapers. Besides fiction, he also wrote histories and biographies.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1900
A Civil War story.
NY: Dodd, Mead 1892
“On Halloween night in a dead-end town in Indiana, local cop Lawrence discovers the body of a three-year-old girl, dressed as an angel, who appears to be the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Called into a private meeting with the mayor, Lawrence is told to steer the investigation away from a Star athlete, who is set to quarterback a championship game. But as the investigation spirals out of control, the body count mounts, and Lawrence discovers an astounding level of hypocrisy at work among the town’s most prominent citizens.” Booklist. Books set in Indiana.
Craven, Roger Carey
Boston: C.M. 1909
De Vries, Peter
“A story of a Polish-American family in the midwest. The first narrator is the father, a furniture mover, married to a religious fanatic. He endures a 12-year hangover when he thinks he has disgraced the family. The second narrator is the son, whose story revolves around a split personality caused by a religious mother and an anti-religious father. Mr. De Vries is actually writing a serious commentary on the foibles of man.” – Library J
Dumont, Julia L.
NY: Appleton 1856
Julia Louisa Cory Dumont (1794-1857) was raised in New York by a widowed mother. She arrived in Vevay, IN in 1814 with her husband, where she began a long dual career; as an inspiring and revered teacher, and as a popular and respected author. You can find a biographical article about her by Skelcher, Lucille Detraz and Jane Lucille Skelcher at the Indiana Cultural History page of this site.
Eggleston, George Cary
NY: Putnam 1875
Historical fiction, about the War of 1812 and Tecumseh’s war.
Eggleston, George Cary
Boston: Lothrop 1904
NY: Grosset & Dunlap. 1871
“The Hoosier schoolmaster is a young man who undertakes the management of the Flat Creek school. He fights the boys; “boards roun’ ” with their parents; incurs the hostility of a gang of horse-thieves and burglars, who have at their head the principal physician among the Flat Crickers; narrowly escapes lynching at the hands of a mob instigated by the robbers..”
The band of thieves such as still here and there infest the Western country, keeping grand juries in awe, electing or killing sheriffs, and necessitating or instigating lynch-law executions; the “protracted meeting”; the spelling school in the evening; the “rough and tumble” fights; the brutality and sodden vulgarity of the ruder part of the community; the jumble of religious sects–something of these things which all once were of the West, if not precisely the West itself, is, on the whole, not ill sketched by Mr. Eggleston”.
– The Atlantic. Books set in Indiana.
Edward Eggleston (1837-1902) was born in Vevay, Indiana. He was both a novelist and a historian, authoring several texts of U.S. history.
See a profile of Eggleston in: Vedder, Henry C., American Writers of To-day in Century Past Collective Biographies: Authors Q – Z
NY: Scribner’s Sons 1900
See the biographical note on Eggleston at his other novel, above.
NY: Dodd, Mead 1879
Martha Finley (1828-1909) was born in Chillicothe, OH; daughter of a doctor. Her family moved to South Bend, IN when she was eight years old, where she was educated in private schools. She then conducted a school of her own. In 1854 she moved east, living in Philadelphia and New York where she taught school and wrote newspaper stories and Sunday-school books. During the Civil War she began producing novels that became bestsellers.
Boston: Roberts Brothers 1877
“In the last year of the Civil War, headstrong southern belle Janet Todd secretly works to rally support for the Sons Of Liberty, a revolutionary conspiracy aiming to turn the northwest Union states into a second Confederacy. Her chief recruiting prospect is the dashing Major Paul Stapleton, a battle-scarred Union officer who is disillusioned by the grisly tactics of his army.” Booklist
French, James Strange
NY: Harper 1836
James Strange French (1807-1886) was a lawyer, novelist, and later a hotel keeper. He was educated at William and Mary and the University of Virginia, then read law with his uncle Robert French in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1831, French represented Nat Turner, as well as a number of other slaves accused of participating in Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. He was the author of at least one other novel, Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett of West Tennessee (1833).
a story of the Wabash country, now within the bounds of the sovereign state of Indiana, when it was on the fringe of the trans-Allegheny frontier, 1761-1762
Hays, Arthur Homer
This story depicts events at a critical period in the history of the Northwest. The British had recently won the region from the French in the French and Indian War, and Native Americans there had to decide whether their trade and diplomatic relations with the British would be friendly or hostile. Meanwhile, American frontiersmen were looking hungrily at these new lands.
Henson, Charles W., ed.
The volume contains 30 short stories within four chapters, entitled: ‘Home and Hearth’, ‘Small Town Folks’, ‘Mystery and Adventure’, and ‘Town Limits’.
Hooper, Cyrus Lauron
NY: Lane 1903
Cyrus Lauron Hooper (1863-?) was born at Rockport, IN. He graduated from Indiana University, and also attended the University of Chicago. He worked as an administrator in the Chicago city school system. Besides a few works of fiction, he also authored a number of textbooks.
Howe, Edgar Watson
Boston: Ticknor 1889
Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937) was born at Treaty, IN. Mostly self-educated, he began work at a printing office at the age of 12. At 19 he was publishing a newspaper in Golden, CO, and then moved on to Atchison, KS, where he edited the Atchison Daily Globe for 34 years. During his tenure the Globe became the most extensively quoted newspaper in the U.S., as other newspapers used his material. In 1911 he turned the paper over to his sons, devoting himself to travel and travel-writing. He was known as the “Sage of Potato Hill”.
Free Press 2004
This tale is set in a “small town in Indiana. Cassie Claiborne, the most grounded person in her family, longs for her feckless father to return home but in the meantime, she grows into a young woman and shoulders the burden herself. On one of his increasingly rare visits, her father takes her to a pool hall. and she watches him play. When she takes her turn with the Cue, it becomes clear that Cassie has an innate talent for the game. She starts playing for money and routinely beats arrogant men who think they can easily best a young girl. Her skill ultimately leads her to a match with her father, but even pool playing can’t make up for his abandonment of her, or the fact that Cassie’s destiny might lie beyond Roseville.” Booklist . Books set in Indiana.
Kinkead, James H.
Cincinnati: Kinkead 1877
Kramer, Harold Morton
Boston, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard 1911
Harold Morton Kramer (1873-1930) was born in Frankfort, IN; the youngest of 10 children. He as educated in the Frankfort public schools. In 1898 he volunteered for service in the Spanish-American War, and then volunteered again in WWI. However, he was too old for military service in 1917, so was sent to France with the YMCA to help provide support for the troops. He began his career as a printer in Frankfort, and soon became a newspaper editor there. In 1910 he retired from newspapers and supported himself by lecturing.
Lincoln, Fred S.
Washington: Neale 1901
Frederick S. Lincoln (1874-?) was born in Ottumwa, IA, moving with his parents to Logansport, IN as a toddler. He also lived for a time in Columbus, IN.
which had no boundaries in time and space, where lurked musical and strange names and mythical and lost peoples, and which was itself only a name musical and strange
Lockridge, Ross Jr.
Story of Raintree County, Indiana from 1844 to 1892, showing current events as the hero saw them on his visits back to his home county.
NY: Macmillan 1903
The author was born in Indianapolis in 1856 but lived in Shelbyville from the age of 13. He was a popular writer whose first novel appeared in 1898. He was also an attorney and an amateur historian of Indiana and of the English Tudor period.
NY: Macmillan 1908
See the biographical note on Major at his other novel above.
A book of lively, wholesome stories of adventure which Uncle Tom Andy Bill, seventy and reminiscent, selects from his boyhood experiences.
– Book Review Digest
Mann, Horace, (pseud.)
Washington: Lucas-Lincoln 1903
McCutcheon, George Barr
NY: Dodd, Mead 1908
George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928) was born in Tippecanoe County, IN. His father was a respected farmer who was given charge of the first farm opened by Purdue University. George attended Purdue briefly, but left to be a newspaperman in Lafayette. About 1901, with his career as a novelist well underway, he left the newspaper and Lafayette, moving to New York. He published many popular novels through the nineteen-teens and ‘twenties.
McCutcheon, George Barr
NY: Dodd, Mead 1921
“Quill’s Window is the name given by a certain Indiana country population to the opening of a cave high up on a rock, a site connected with many weird stories. It becomes the center of this story, which relates the villainies of an invalided rake, posing as an ex-service man while he is making love and seducing country girls and trying to secure the hand of a rich heiress. When his iniquities have found him out, the cave becomes his last refuge where he is hounded down and brought to bay by the brother of one of his victims.
“The darker threads of the story are loosely woven together and the end, if not perfectly neat, is at least crashing.”- The Book Review Digest. Books set in Indiana.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1922
New American Library 1967
“In the space of one day, Jubal E. Gainer, high school dropout and draft dodger, manages to rack up an impressive array of crimes, moral and felonious. He steals a friend’s motorcycle, rapes a simple-minded spinster, mugs a pixyish professor, and stabs an obese visionary who runs a surplus store. He then waits out an Indiana twister and goes on his way, leaving as much wreckage in his path as the twister itself.” Library J
Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1921
Myers, Frank A.
London: Tennyson Neely 1899
Study of political and social life in Indiana with a love story involving the mystery of the heroine’s parentage.” – NY state lib. Books that take place in Indiana.
Meredith Nicholson (1866-1947) was born in Crawfordsville, IN, son of one of the more substantial farmers in his county. He moved with his family to Indianapolis in 1872, remaining there most of his life. As a young man he worked at local newspapers and also studied law. In the late ’90s he left newspaper work to serve as Treasurer for a mining corporation in Denver, returning to Indianapolis in about 1900. It was about that time that he began writing full-time, gradually becoming one of the best-known writers of his day. He retired as a novelist in the ’30s, but continued to write essays.
“Underground passages, a villain, a love affair, shooting and much mystery are associated with the ‘house of a thousand candles,’ in which a young globe-trotter must live a year in order to comply with his grandfather’s will.” -A.L.A.
NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1910
Perrow, George L.
Indianapolis: Tilford & Carlon 1877
Phillips, David Graham
NY: Appleton 1911
David Graham Phillips (1867-1911) was born in Madison, IN, the son of a banker. After attending Madison’s public schools, David studied at Asbury College (now DePauw University), transferring to Princeton after two years. After graduation there he worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, earning a reputation as something of a phenomenon. In 1890 he sought greener pastures in New York, winding up on the editorial staff of Joseph Pulitzer’s “World” in just three years. In 1901 he published his first novel, “The Great God Success” to popular and critical acclaim. He soon gave up newspaper employment and earned his living with novels and free-lance articles for magazines, becoming known as a muckraker. He is considered by some critics to be one of America’s best novelists; by others simply a great journalist.
Phillips, David Graham
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1905
Reed, Earl H.
NY: Lane 1920
“The background of this collection of sketches and stories is the country through which flowed one of the most interesting of our western rivers before its destruction as a natural waterway. This book is not a history. It is intended as an interpretation of the life along the river that the author has come in contact with during many years of familiarity with the region.”
– from the author’s Foreword
The river was the Kankakee, near the southern end of Lake Michigan, and once the main confluent of the Illinois. Once it lapped its leisurely course with many ramifications through low marsh lands, teeming with natural beauty and bird life, the home of the Miami and Pottawatomie Indians. Now the Indians and the beauty and the birds are gone and a mighty ditch of straight-channeled course has drained away the marshes. The book is an attempt at the Interpretation of the life along the river that has vanished and is illustrated with sketches by the author. The contents are: The vanishing river; The silver arrow; The brass bound box; The “Wether book” of Buck Granger’s grandfather; Tipton Posey’s store; Muskrat Hyatt’s redemption; The turkey club; The predicaments of Colonel Peets; His unlucky star.
– Book Review Digest
Riley, James Whitcomb
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1888
James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was an Indiana writer, poet, and best-selling author. During his lifetime he was known as the “Hoosier Poet” and “Children’s Poet” for his dialect works and his children’s poetry respectively. Pipes o’Pan at Zekesbury was his fourth novel, released to great critical acclaim.
-Wikipedia entry for Riley
Snedeker, Caroline D.
Boston: Houghton 1917
Caroline Dale Snedeker (1871-1956) wrote primarily for young adults. Born in New Harmony, IN, she grew up in Vernon, IN and attended the College of Music in Cincinnati. After her marriage, the couple lived in New York. Seth Way was her third published novel. The setting is the utopian New Harmony settlement in Indiana in the 1840’s.
A story of the New Harmony community, Robert Owen’s experiment in communal living in Indiana. With a few exceptions the characters are real people. The hero, Seth Way, is modelled after Thomas Say, the zoologist, although the author has made him a younger man and has given him a different early environment and woven for him an original romance. Early in the story there Is a touching picture of the meeting between the uncouth, unlearned mountain boy, and William MacLure, the geologist, and of the awakening of the boy’s desire for knowledge. MacLure takes the boy under his protection, and gives him his start In scientific training. One of the important incidents of Seth Way’s association with the New Harmony community is his long journey from New York in company with Jessonda Macleod, who comes to the settlement as music teacher. Out of this grows his romance. Jessonda is interesting as a forerunner of the high-minded, independent woman of today.
– Book Review Digest. Historical fiction set in Indiana.
Based on the life of “Eugene V. Debs, famous for his fanatic devotion to the cause of the working man. It’s the tragic story of a man who married a woman who became his staunch adversary. She opposed him in his work until the end of his days, while the woman he lost remained unswervingly loyal to him.” – Literary Guild
Gene Stratton-Porter (1863-1924) was an author, naturalist, and wildlife photographer. She was also one of the earliest women to form a movie studio and production company. She wrote popular columns in national magazines as well as best-selling novels that were read by millions. Born and raised in Indiana, she and her husband lived near Geneva, IN. Two of her most popular novels were set in the swamp near their home.
– Wikipedia entry for Stratton-Porter
Mrs. Porter’s new novel is a story of two or more generations ago. Kate Bates is the youngest daughter of a rich Indiana farmer, known as the “land king.” Each of her numerous brothers, on reaching his majority, has been presented with a two-hundred acre farm, the deed to which remains in the father’s possession. Kate, when she learns that she is to be denied even the brief term of schooling that has been her sister’s portion rebels against her father’s authority. She has helped earn so many two-hundred acre farms for her brothers that her one ideal comes to be the possession of that number of acres for herself. The story follows her through many years of struggle and disappointment to final achievement.
– Book Review Digest. Novels set in Indiana.
NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1904
Awarded the 1922 Pulitzer Prize. “Alice Adams is a ‘small town’ girl of the Middle West. She has charm and ambition, but handicapped as she is by lack of money, background and ideals, her imagination can compass no higher career than struggling to keep with her childhood friends whose fortunes have grown with the town. Alice is a pathetic figure, at once amusing, appealing and irritating, as are her self-sacrificing but one ideaed mother and her simple-minded, goaded father. A lightly handled albeit penetrating study.” – Cleveland
NY: Doubleday 1899
Newton Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) was born in Indianapolis to a judge, and was named after his mother’s uncle, a California governor. Booth attended Phillips Exeter Academy and began college studies at Purdue. After two years he transferred to Princeton, but did not graduate. He then tried to be an illustrator and a writer, but earned nearly nothing from either occupation until he published “The Gentleman from Indiana” in 1899. This was an immediate bestseller, and he quickly followed up with more. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature twice, for “The Magnificent Ambersons” and “Alice Adams”.
NY: Harper & Brothers 1915
The city that is the scene of this story might be Chicago, but it probably is not: it might be any one of the industrial cities of the middle west, but it probably is no one of them. It is any city, every city, that makes Bigness its god. Chief among the worshippers of Bigness in this city was Sheridan of the Sheridan trust company, and this is the story of Sheridan and his family; particularly it is the story of the youngest of them. Bibbs, a dreamy, imaginative youth, sick in mind and body. Such is the Bibbs first introduced to us. The Bibbs we see the last of has become the servitor of business with the rest of them: rising to the occasion when his father needs him and proving himself a man after his father’s own heart. And yet one hopes that he will prove to be something more than a servitor, that he will learn to make Bigness itself the servant; and Mary Vertrees, the very fine girl who had learned to love Bibbs in failure and in success, lends color to the hope.
– Book Review Digest
NY: Dodd, Mead 1903
Angeline Gruey Teal (1842-1913) was born on a farm in southern Ohio, and moved with her family to Noble County, IN at three. She attended rural schools and Miss Griggs’ Seminary at Wolcottville, IN. In 1866 she married a doctor in Kendallville, where she wrote poems, children’s stories and short stories for magazines for many years.
Indianapolis: Bowen Merrill 1900
A historical novel dealing with the life of the old Northwest in Revolutionary times.
James Maurice Thompson (1844-1901), son of a Baptist minister, was born in Fairfield, Indiana. The family moved to north Georgia in the 1850s and he was educated by tutors in the classical languages, literature, French and mathematics, which provided the basis for his later work as a civil engineer. During the Civil War Thompson served in the Confederate Army. After the war he lived in Calhoun, Georgia, studied surveying and engineering, and took up the study of law. He lived in Calhoun two years and began his career as a writer there.
In 1868 Thompson and his brother moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana. Maurice found work as an engineer on a new railroad under construction and the Thompson brothers married sisters. In 1871 Thompson moved from engineering work to law and opened an office with his brother. Now engaged in the practice of law, Thompson again took up writing, and in 1873 the Atlantic Monthly published one of his articles, after which he undertook a series of articles on archery which is acclaimed today in archery circles as the first effort to popularize the sport. Thompson’s first book appeared in 1875 and over the ensuing years he wrote in different genres, including historical fiction and nature poetry. He was elected to the Indiana State Legislature in 1879.
– Info from the website “Strangers to Us All – Lawyers and Poetry”
NY: Cassell 1886
See the biographical note about the author at Alice of Old Vincennes, on this web page. This story is semi-autobiographical, about Crawfordsville, IN, where the author lived.
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1901
Troyer, Howard W.
Chronicles the development of Indiana from pioneer days to the Civil War; development of the Grange movement, daily life and customs.
Chicago: McClurg 1912
Earlier episodes in the courtship and marriage of the Birdwells of “Friendly Persuasion”, as they settle a farm on the Indiana frontier, cooperate with the Underground Railroad, and raise their family in good Quaker tradition.
Episodes in the life of a Quaker family in Indiana, including a minor Civil War encounter.
Harcourt Brace 1975
“In 1824 an explosive event on the American frontier threatened massive and bloody Indian reprisals. The little-known and long-forgotten record tells of the brutal murder of innocent, peaceful Indians, including women and children, by five white men. From this scant evidence of history Jessamyn West has fashioned an exciting and richly plotted novel of haunting meaning”. -Publisher
Picture of life on a farm in Southern Indiana in 1899. Novels set in Indiana.