Books Set in Ohio – Books that Take Place in Ohio – Ohio Novels

Books Set in Ohio – Books that Take Place in Ohio – Ohio Novels

Ohio fiction free books. Novels set in Ohio or by Ohio authors. Some take place in Cleveland or Cincinnati. Hundreds of ebooks, vintage & modern, many genres.

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.

Ohio Fiction Collection

Books that take place in Ohio. This collection of over 180 free online books on Internet Archive consists of the search result for ‘Ohio Fiction’. Most are books set in Ohio, or were written by Ohio authors. Some authors are: Toni Morrison, Mary Monroe, Richard Bachman, Robert Lawson, Jennifer Crusie, Janet Dailey, Donald Ray Pollock, Susan Donovan, Kim Harrison, Nelson DeMille, Harry Turtledove, Sarah Strohmeyer, Erin McCarthy, Sherwood Anderson, Kathleen Ernst, Sharon M. Draper, Kathleen Fuller, Michael Koryta, Michelle Jerott, Vickie M. Stringer, Salvatore Scibona, Dawn Powell, Bernard F. Conners, Trisha Alexander, Dawn Powell, Brooks Hansen, Les Roberts, Bonnie Himan, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Lynda Durrant. Books set in Ohio, books that take place in Ohio.

To Keep Us Free

Allis, Marguerite
Putnam 1952       

Development of the Ohio country from 1797 to 1815; settlement at Marietta; founding of Cleveland; the first census; the Burr-Blennerhassett conspiracy; and the War of 1812. Books set in Ohio, books that take place in Ohio.

Dark Laughter

Anderson, Sherwood
Boni & Liveright 1925       

Bruce Dudley is “the spoiled child of industrialism, longing to create with his brain or with his hands, but balked by a country that asks for neither sound handling of tools nor true worlds. And Bruce leaves his newspaper and his short-story writing wife and goes drifting down the river, scarcely knowing what he wants, unless it is to see what life really is like and put it into poetry.” – Sat R
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941), self-educated, rose to become a successful copywriter and business owner in Cleveland and Elyria, OH. In 1912 Anderson had a nervous breakdown that led him to abandon his family and business. He became a writer and moved to Chicago, where through the 1920s he published short stories, novels, memoirs, poetry and essays. “Dark Laughter”, inspired by his time in New Orleans, was his only best-seller. -Wikipedia

Poor White

Anderson, Sherwood
Huebsch 1920       

This novel “describes the changes occurring in a Midwestern town when industrialism replaces the old agrarian, craft-centered society. The town itself is the protagonist of the early part of the book. and Anderson successfully depicts its shabbiness. isolation. and sterility. Hugh McVey, the central character. is an introverted inventor who does not become aware until it is too late that his own genius contributes to the corruption of his environment.” Reader’s Ency

Winesburg Ohio; A Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life

Anderson, Sherwood
NY: Modern Library 1919

“A series of twenty-three vignettes. Winesburg, Ohio is a character study of a small town. It highlights individual residents and scrutinizes who they are and why this reality often conflicts with their dreams. The short stories are linked through George Willard, a young newspaper reporter who is disenchanted with the narrow-mindedness of small towns.” Shapiro. Novels set in Ohio, books based in Ohio.

Cousin Sadie

Anderton, Daisy
Boston: Stratford 1920

“The scene is a college town in Ohio to which the heroine, Sara Dickinson, descendant of a long line of Calvinistic forebears, returns after a long absence. She thinks she has shaken off the teachings of her childhood, but in a crucial situation, involving love between herself and the husband of a young cousin, the sharp sense of distinction between right and wrong reasserts itself.”
“The atmosphere of an Ohio college town is well done.”
– The Book Review Digest. Books based in Ohio, books that take place in Ohio.

Johnny Appleseed

Atkinson, Eleanor
Harper 1915       

Story of the picturesque, half legendary character, John Chapman, ‘the Saint of American Orchards’, who planted his apple seeds throughout the Ohio Valley a century ago.” -Cleveland. Books set in Ohio, books based in Ohio.

The Bandits of the Osage: A Western Romance

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: Robinson and Jones 1847

Emerson Bennett (1822-1905) was born in Massachusetts, left home at 16, and lived in various cities, including Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg, IN and Philadelphia. He published his first short story in 1843, and by 1880 had published more than 30 books and hundreds of short stories. His adventure stories about the west were very popular from the 1840s to the 1860s with an emerging mass market of readers.

Leni Leoti; or, Adventures in the far West. A Sequel to “Prairie Flower”

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: James 1852

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage.

The Prairie Flower

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: James 1852

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage.

The Phantom of the Forest: A Tale of the Dark and Bloody Ground

Bennett, Emerson
Philadelphia: Potter 1868

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage. Books set in Ohio, novels set in Ohio.

Plain People: A Story of the Western Reserve

Branch, Edward P.
New York: Publishers’ Print. Co 1892

The Farm

Bromfield, Louis
Harper 1946       

“In this chronicle of four generations of his family, Mr. Bromfield has written a social history of the Middle West, especially of Mansfield, the background of his early book. (The Green Bay Tree). He tells the story of the family from 1815, when the great-grandfather, the Colonel, settled in Ohio, to the time when the great-grandson departs for the [first] World War. About the grandfather’s farm centered the life of the entire family—a vast array of aunts and uncles. Throughout the book [the author] laments the disappearance from American life of integrity and idealism, destroyed, he believes by an unscrupulous New England industrialism, a nostalgia, often bitter, flavors the whole tale. It lacks conversation and story interest but many readers will find it a fine and stirring narrative. ‘ ‘ Booklist. Books set in Ohio.

When the Bough Breaks

Carney, Otis
Houghton 1957       

Bud Floyd, son of Middle Western tycoon Lee Floyd, makes an effort to prove his own worth after Princeton and the service by starting a magazine with his college roommate, Alec. In New York he meets and marries Deb, rebellious daughter of the Midwestern upper middle class. The magazine appears to Bud to be hopeless, so he withdraws against the wishes of Deb and Alec, to join big business in Deb’s home town, putting their marriage under the surveillance of her parents and in the midst of suburbia. Alec wanders around the world seeking himself, until his return precipitates action between Deb and Bud. Concern with contemporary Americana and criticism of the ramifications of our culture give general interest. ” -Library J

The Bishop’s Son: A Novel

Cary, Alice
NY: Carleton 1857

Alice Cary (1820-1871) was born near Cincinnati in 1820. She grew up on Clovernook farm; land that her grandfather received in lieu of pay as a Revolutionary War veteran in 1803. The Cincinnati press first published her verse when she was 18, to an enthusiastic reception. Alice remained at Clovernook until 1850, when she and her sister Phoebe moved to New York. In the same year her first volume of poems was published, launching a highly successful literary career. There is a biographical chapter about her in Venable, Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley, on the Great Lakes Cultural History page of this site.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Clovernook; or Recollections of our Neighborhood in the West

Cary, Alice
NY: Lovell 1852

See the biographical note of Cary at The Bishop’s Son, on this page.

Married, not Mated, or, How they Lived at Woodside and Throckmorton Hall

Cary, Alice
Cincinnati: Derby 1856

See the biographical note of Cary at The Bishop’s Son, on this page.

Pictures of Country Life

Cary, Alice
NY: Derby & Jackson 1859

See the biographical note of Cary at The Bishop’s Son, on this page.

Flatboats and Wagon Wheels

Comfort, Mildred H, and Dirk Gringhuis
Chicago: Beckley-Cardy 1948

Juvenile fiction from the mid-20th century. The story is about two children of the 1780s who, with their parents, leave their Pennsylvania farm and travel to the Ohio frontier by flatboat to start a new life near Losantiville (Cincinnati). Books set in Ohio, books based in Ohio, novels set in Ohio.

Faking It

Crusie, Jennifer
St. Martin’s 2004       

“Minerva Dobbs thought David Fisk might be the one she’s been waiting for, until he dumps her three weeks before her sister Diana’s wedding. Min soon realizes just how lucky she is to be rid of David when she overhears him at her favorite bar betting a handsome stranger, Calvin Morrisey, that Cal couldn’t bed Min in a month. At first Min debates the idea of giving them both a piece of her mind, but then she remembers she still needs a date for the wedding. Why not use the all-too charming Cal just like he was going to use her, and then dump him? Of course, Min never expected that Cal might turn out to be the ‘one.’ . Finding exactly the right balance between cynicism and optimism, Crusie deftly blends snappy dialogue; quirky, irrepressible secondary characters; and two beautifully matched protagonists struggling against their romantic fate.” Booklist

Chronicle of an Old Town

Cunningham, Albert Benjamin
NY: Abingdon 1919

“A Methodist minister who has grown old in the service of an eastern church is turned out by his trustees with rather callous cruelty, because after a long period of domestic affliction he has lost much of his earlier vigor. The men in authority in his denomination also seem to have little use for him now that he has grown old, but by pure luck he is assigned to the church in a little Ohio town. His congregation is composed of simple, easy-going country people who show him and his family the greatest kindness. Men and women are drawn in a lifelike manner with all their peculiarities of speech and behavior. There is a youthful romance in which the minister’s daughter finds her happiness.”
“Its unimportant love story, leisurely told, lets the minister and two other mellow philosophers talk rustic wisdom that is richly flavored.”
– The Book Review Digest

The Broad Aisle; A Realistic Tale of Early Ohio

Daggett, Mary Stewart
London: Neely 1899


DeMille, Nelson
Warner 1994       

“Keith Landry, his Cold War intelligence job a victim of the Soviet collapse, returns to the little Ohio town where he grew up and begins to tinker with thoughts of reviving the family farm. A former sweetheart, Annie, despondent after Keith went off to Vietnam, had married aggressive, good-looking Cliff Baxter on the rebound, but Keith and Annie had never ceased to correspond. Now that he’s back. the old interest is rekindled in both, but Baxter, now police chief and a womanizing petty tyrant, is fiercely jealous—and the novel takes off as a deadly struggle between a man trained in the arts of deception and one with all the built-in advantages of police power in a remote spot.” Publ Wkly. Books set in Ohio.

The Evidence Against Her

Dew, Robb Forman
Little, Brown 2001       

This novel is “set in the small town of Washburn, Ohio. The story begins with three children born on the same September day in 1888, and it ends with those same three, grown and with children of their own, in the summer of 1927. Lily Scofield, her cousin Warren Scofield and Robert Butler, son of the Methodist pastor, grow up as an inseparable group. Even after Lily marries Robert in June 1913, she assumes that Warren will still somehow always be close by. (But he meets) Agnes Claytor, who was a 14-year-old guest at Lily’s wedding.” N Y Times Book Rev
“A marvel of lyrical understatement, the narrative flows like a river—smooth, with surprising depths, some turbulence and the inexorability of time’s passing.” Publ Wkly. Books set in Ohio.

The Truth of the Matter

Dew, Robb Forman
Little, Brown 2005       

Second title in a trilogy about the Scofield family of Washburn, Ohio; begun with: The Evidence Against Her. “Agnes Scofield has raised her children as a widow, having lost husband Warren in a car accident in 1930. This loss permeates the way in which Agnes recalls her life—she does not feel, she represses—and affects the relationships she has with her children. During World War II, her children leave home, and Agnes adjusts to single life only to have to readjust when they return to their small Ohio town with spouses and children in tow. The family ultimately finds the homecoming unsettling, as if they are just meeting one another for the first time. Dew’s plain writing highlights the characters’ inner lives and the wartime environment, yet it carries the reader along effortlessly.” Libr J. Books that take place in Ohio.

Through the Ivory Gate

Dove, Rita
Pantheon 1992       

“Virginia King, a talented young black woman. returns to her hometown of Akron, Ohio, as artist-in-residence at an elementary school. The story moves back and forth the present, which finds her teaching puppetry to children, and her past, which includes memories of a constricting community and family life and the liberation offered by college and her stint with a communal puppet theater.” Publ Wkly
“Whether she is evoking look of a landscape or depicting the nuances of a family quarrel. Dove sees with the keen eye of an artist and writes with the finely honed diction of a poet. In Virginia King, she has created a distinctive, highly individualized heroine.” Christ Sci Monit. Novels set in Ohio.

Tales and Sketches of the Queen City

Drake, Benjamin
Cincinnati: Morgan 1838

This volume contains thirteen tales or sketches, several of which were published in the Hesperian and other periodicals in the 1830s.

-The Queen City
-The Novice of Cahokia
-Putting a Blackleg on Shore
-The Baptism
-The Yankee Colporteen
-The Grave of Rosalie
-The Burial by Moonlight
-A Kentucky Election
-Visit to the Blue Licks
-Trying on a Shoe
-The Battle of Brindle and the Buckeyes
-The Buried Canoe
-The Flag-Bearer

Ned on the River

Ellis, Edward S.
Philadelphia: Porter & Coates 1884

An adventure story that takes place in 1789 on the Ohio frontier and includes fighting Indians. Author Edward S. Ellis (1840-1916), was a teacher and school administrator who published hundreds of books and magazine articles under his own name and more than a dozen pseudonyms. Historical fiction set in Ohio.

The Bounty Lands

Ellis, William Donohue
World 1952       

“Alone in a cabin clearing with his wife and child, Tom Woodbridge was a law unto himself, as rugged and self-centered as only a frontiersman could afford to be. When the town of Hosmer’s Village [Ohi0] began to grow around him, he fought all improvements: the court, the school, the church and even the town government, each a threat to his own continuing independence.” -McClurg Book News
“It is apparent that the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure just how the people lived in that day and that land. The research must have kept him busy for a long time, for nowhere in the book could this reviewer find an anachronism or a descriptive line that did not ring true.” -Chicago Sunday Tribune. Books set in Ohio.

The Brooks Legend

Ellis, William Donohue
Crowell 1958       

“The third in the author’s chronicles of the Ohio frontier covers the years following the War of 1812. Saul Brooks, the central figure, is a medical practitioner whose efforts to become a trained M.D. are thwarted repeatedly not because of lack of skill but because he is either tricked into staying in a community desperately in need of his services or he is caught in the conflict over systems of medication and medical opinion. Although interest focuses on medicine, many other aspects of the frontier life are realistically detailed. Characters reappear from the preceding Jonathan Blair and The Bounty Lands.” -Booklist. Books set in Ohio.

Jonathan Blair: Bounty Lands Lawyer

Ellis, William Donohue
World 1954       

“The hero of this historical novel of the American frontier is Jonathan Blair, the lawyer from the East who defended the Ohio settlers’ interests in The Bounty Lands. In this volume Blair risks his life and reputation to establish the Mesopotamia territory on a sound financial basis.” -Book Review Digest. Books set in Ohio.

George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman; Or, ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship.’

Flint, Timothy
Boston: Hilliard Gray 1829

Timothy Flint (1780-1840) was one of the most significant literary figures in the early history of the Old Northwest. He was a minister and graduate of Harvard who went west in 1815 to carry out missionary work. For the next ten years he traveled in the Mississippi Valley, publishing in 1826 a memoir called Recollections of the Last Ten Years. In 1833 he published Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone, which did much to develop the Boone legend. He also founded and edited the Western Monthly, a literary magazine in Cincinnati from 1827-1830. You can find a biography of Flint by John Kirkpatrick on the Ohio Biographies and Memoirs page of this site. There is also a biographical chapter about him in Venable, Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley, on the Great Lakes Cultural History page.

Omensetter’s Luck

Gass, William H.
New American Library 1966       

Negro “Brackett Omensetter’s arrival in Gilean had a profound effect upon the town. To some his force and freedom of spirit was an encouragement. To minister Jethro Furber, Omensetter was a rival, with more power over Furber’s people than the minister had. And to Doc Orcutt he was a revelation of how effective a man could be.” -Book Buyer’s Guide
“An unusual poeticophilosophical novel concerned with good and evil, not easily followed but richly rewarding for the patient, perceptive reader.” -Booklist


Gold, Herbert
Random House 1967       

“The story of the persecution of Jews in Czarist Russia, the determined flight of Mr. Gold’s father to the United States when only thirteen years old, his struggle against poverty and harassment by racketeers, and his eventual success. It is also a story of the conflict between immigrant parents and first generation Americans.’ Library J
“His approach is tender and warmhearted and lyrical. He charms rather than probes. He etches in vignettes as he edges away from dramatics. The result is a book that is often eloquently and deeply moving, because it is constantly informed with a search for love—father love: so hard to describe, so difficult to understand, yet so impossible to live without.” -N Y Times Bk R

Therefore Be Bold

Gold, Herbert
Dial 1960       

Story of a Jewish boy growing up in a non-Jewish suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1930’s. Books that take place in Ohio.

Betty Zane

Grey, Zane
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1903

Betty Zane was a real woman, one of the great heroines of the American Revolution. She was one of the pioneers who moved westward from Virginia at the end of the eighteenth century into the wilderness beyond the mountains. Zane Grey tells of the daily struggles and hardships of her frontier life, of her romance with Alfred Clarke, of the continual warfare with the Indians, of the burning of her settlement and of her dramatic escape from both the Indians and the British in the last battle of the American Revolution.
Pearl Zane Grey (1872-1939), born in Zanesville, OH, was best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the American frontier. Over 100 films have been produced from his books.

The Last Trail

Grey, Zane
Roslyn, N.Y: Walter J. Black 1909

The Spirit of the Border: A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley

Grey, Zane and J W. Davis
New York: A.L. Burt 1906

See the biographical note of Zane at Betty Zane, on this page.

A Tree Full of Stars

Grubb, Davis
Scribner 1965       

A sentimental tale of Christmas in a small Ohio town during the Depression.

East and West: A Story of New-Born Ohio

Hale, Edward E.
New York: Cassell 1892

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) was a child prodigy in Boston who graduated from Boston Latin School at age 13 and enrolled immediately afterward at Harvard College. There he was elected Class Poet and graduated second in his class, then went on to study at Harvard Divinity School. In the second half of the 19th century he was prominent in the American literary scene through short stories in periodicals, novels, and a variety of non-fiction works. He was at the same time a Unitarian minister at a Boston church and an active social reformer.

Legends of the West

Hall, James
NY: Putnam 1832

James Hall (1793-1868) lived in Ohio and Illinois, editing a magazine in Cincinnati. He authored many stories of adventure on the western frontier and was considered one of the most talented writers in the West.

Also see:
– Hall, James, The Wilderness and the War Path in Illinois Novels and Historical Fiction
– a biographical chapter about James Hall in Venable, William H., Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley; Historical and Biographical Sketches in Great Lakes Region Cultural History

Tales of the Border

Hall, James
Philadelphia: Hall 1835

See the biographical note at Legends of the West, on this page.

The Western Souvenir: A Christmas and New Year’s Gift for 1829

Hall, James
Cincinnati: Guilford 1828

See the biographical note at Legends of the West, on this page.

The Wilderness and the War Path

Hall, James
London: Wiley & Putnam 1846

See the biographical note at Legends of the West, on this page.

Trumpet in the Wilderness

Harper, Robert S.
New York: M.S. Mill 1940

This adventure story about the War of 1812 in the west opens in 1813 with Jubal Johnson, recently a clerk in Philadelphia but now a sergeant and aide to Colonel Lewis Cass, marching across the Ohio wilderness with an army headed for battle in Detroit. Historical fiction set in Ohio.

The Quiet Shore

Havighurst, Walter
Macmillan 1937       

Homesteading on Lake Erie just after the Civil War, and the growth of industry in Ohio. Books set in Ohio.

Early Engagements: and Florence, (a sequel)

Hayden, Sarah Marshall
Cincinnati 1858

Sarah Hayden was recognized at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago as Illinois’ first woman authoress. She wrote Early Engagements at the age of 16 in 1842, but that story and the sequel, Florence, were not published until 1854. Hayden was born in Shawneetown, IL, and after her marriage in 1843 she and her husband lived in Cincinnati, where she wrote poetry and prose for periodicals. Some of her works were published under the pen name Mary Frazaer.

Eoline: or Magnolia Vale

Hentz, Caroline Lee
Philadelphia: Peterson 1869

Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz (1800-1856) was a major author of her day, and noted for her outspoken opposition to the abolitionist movement and her rebuttal to the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Born and raised in Massachusetts, after marrying she and her family moved several times, living in North Carolina, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Alabama and Georgia. While in Cincinnati she was friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Linda, or the Young Pilot of the Belle Creole

Hentz, Caroline Lee
Philadelphia: Peterson 1869

Includes a biography of the author. Also see the brief biographical note on this page, at the novel Eoline.

You’ll Like My Mother

Hintze, Naomi A.
Putnam 1969       

A “Red mask mystery” “Another modern Gothic (this suspense-horror tale) has a haunted house in Always, a small town on the Ohio, where Francesca Kinsolving (in her ninth month of pregnancy) comes to meet for the first time the mother of her dead husband.” -Library J
“Francesca herself is immediately endearing, a vibrant, completely convincing young woman who turns what might have been an ordinary story into a compelling novel to be read at one sitting. Admirers of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ should attend this birth.” -Book of the Month Club News. Books set in Ohio.

The Jazz Bird

Holden, Craig
Simon & Schuster 2002       

“Charlie Taft is a prosecutor in late 1920s Cincinnati. When bootlegger George Remus turns himself in, in October 1927, for shooting his society wife, Imogene, Charlie thinks he’s been handed a career maker. But all is not as simple as it seems.” Publ Wkly
This novel “is based on an actual murder that place in Cincinnati in 1927. In addition to its exploration of the Remus murder case, the book offers a portrait of a now-lost Cincinnati, with its jazz clubs, its great Roebling suspension bridge and its neighborhoods with names like Over the Rhine and Eden Park.” N Y Times Book Rev. Novels set in Ohio.

Stories of Ohio

Howells, William Dean
NY: American Book 1897

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was the son of a newspaper editor who moved often around Ohio. He was a very influential fiction writer, editor and critic. He served as the editor of The Atlantic from 1871 to 1881, and played an important part in the rise of the Literary Realism movement in the U.S.

“This book is a successful attempt to present an outline view of the history of Ohio from the earliest times, in the form of stories drawn from the annals of the state. The stories are true to the essential facts of history, and are told in Mr. Howells’s well-known style. As a matter of course, it is much fuller in the pioneer period than in the later period, and throws far more light upon what may lie called the strictly social side of life than upon the political and civic side. The book is intended for young readers, especially pupils in the public schools.”
– Literature of American History; a bibliographical guide (1902)

The Ward of Tecumseh

Marriott, Crittenden
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1914

Crittenden Marriott (1867-1932) was born in Baltimore and began his career in Louisville, KY. He was a writer for the Associated Press and a reporter and correspondent for various newspapers, traveling worldwide. He wrote books, magazine serials, short stories, non-fiction, and motion picture scenarios.

‘The ward of Tecumseh’ finds the reader transplanted to the scenes attendant upon the war of 1812. At the death of the rich Count Telfair of France the succession falls to Estelle Telfair, daughter of the count’s brother, M. Delaroche, who settled early in Ohio and became a trader with and a close friend of, Tecumseh, chief of the Shawnee Indians. At her father’s death, the girl is raised by the Indians, as Alagwa, without knowledge of her royal blood until she Is seventeen, when Brito Telfair, an English representative of a branch of the Telfair family comes to Tecumseh and demands the girl.
— Publishers’ Weekly

Follow the River

Mayer, Albert I.
Doubleday 1969       

A long tale of frontier settlement and Indian fighting in the Ohio country in the 1790’s. The hero journeys down the Ohio River to Cincinnati to teach; later joins General Josiah Harmar’s expedition against the Indians along the Maumee River.


Morrison, Toni
Knopf 1974       

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This “is the story of two black women friends and of their community of Medallion, Ohio. The community has been stunted and turned inward by the racism of the larger society. The rage and disordered lives of the townspeople are seen as a reaction to their stifled hopes. The novel follows the lives of Sula and Nel from childhood to maturity to death.” Merriam-Webster’s Ency of Lit

Songs for the Missing

O’Nan, Stewart
Viking 2008       

The author’s “greatest literary talent lies with his characters. It’s as if he has lived each of the lives he creates, and nothing is too mundane nor too overblown… O’Nan has honed his ability to tap into the most basic components of small town life and ordinary people. His latest is both an intriguing page-turner and a sometimes agonizing look at human emotion in the face of inexplicable loss.” -Rocky Mountain News

Silent Witness

Patterson, Richard North
Knopf 1997       

This novel “revolves around a friendship that begins on a high-school football field and is tested half a life-time later in a Lake City, Ohio, courtroom. Tony Lord, a noted California criminal lawyer, returns to the home of his youth to defend his oldest friend, Sam Robb, against the charge of murdering his 16-year-old mistress. Lord takes the sordid case in part because his own life was nearly shattered when, as a teenager, he was suspected of murdering his own girlfriend.” Publ Wkly. Books set in Ohio.


Pollock, Donald Ray
Doubleday 2008       

Contents: Real life; Dynamite hole; Knockemstiff; Hair’s fate; Pills; Giganthomachy; Schott’s Bridge; Lard; Fish sticks; Bactine; Discipline; Assailants; Rainy Sunday; Holler; I start over; Blessed; Honolulu; The fights “Knockemstiff — real name, real town — is full of the sorriest group of people imaginable, a bunch of damaged souls with crass manners, greasy hair, sour breath, addictions galore and savage tendencies. Some can sense the possibilities of a better life, but their longing for escape just might lead them to do something crazy. Others are simply rotting away, trapped by self-defeating habits impossible to shake. Pollock underscores their struggles with vivid imagery and, at times, a tender touch. Pollock’s writing has been compared to that of Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver and Cormac McCarthy. He draws his readers in slowly, tangling them in the mundane toil of small-town life, before smacking them upside the head with something unexpected and primal. Small moments yield big surprises.” Oregonian

Come Back to Sorrento

Powell, Dawn
Steerforth 1997       

Originally published in 1932 as The Tenth Moon. “Here Powell turns her attention to those certain rare souls who have the secret of finding their lives glamorous and themselves magnificent under the most humble conditions. Connie Benjamin, the village shoemaker’s wife, was raised in a wealthy household and had pretensions toward an operatic career. Blaine Decker, the new high school music teacher, is a homosexual in a closeted era who once spent time abroad studying piano. The two are drawn together into a powerful friendship of dependence, each sustaining the other in a conviction of superiority and translating the surface monotony of their lives into a drama richer than reality.” -Book cover

Dance Night

Powell, Dawn
Steerforth 1999       

It is sometime prior to World War I in Lamptown, Ohio, a working-class town filled with factory girls. Young Nettie Farrell complains: “Every time a new man comes to town it’s like dividing a mouse up for a hundred cats.’ Every Thursday night at the Casino Dance Hall women and a few men gather to escape their pedestrian lives in fantasy, and sometimes to live out these fantasies. Observing all are the novel’s two young protagonists. Morry, who dreams of becoming an architect and developer. and Jen, an unsentimental orphan of fourteen who, abandoned by her mother, dreams of escape. – Book Cover. Novels set in Ohio.

The Awakening Land: The Trees, The Fields, & The Town

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1966       

“The Awakening Land trilogy by Conrad Richter is a series of three novels that explore the lives of a white American frontier family in the Ohio Valley from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th. The series consists of The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950); the third novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951. These works established Richter as a major novelist of historical fiction.
The Trees (1940) introduces the Luckett family, who emigrate from Pennsylvania to the Ohio Valley wilderness about 1795, after the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States of America. Told mostly from the point of view of the eldest daughter, Sayward, the novel explores how the family carves a homestead from the forest, suffering losses and hardships along the way.
The Fields (1946) follows Sayward in her marriage to Portius Wheeler, a pioneer from the East. They raise a family of nine children together, although Portius also fathers a daughter, Rosa Tench, by another woman. The family and community continue to clear more trees in order to expand their area for farming and to make way for new dwellings. The Wheeler homestead becomes the nucleus of a settlement called Moonshine Church.
The Town (1950) continues the story of Sayward’s family. She witnesses the transformation of the settlement into a modern industrialized town called Americus. Her family moves into a refined, large house in town. Many of the chapters in The Town are told from the point of view of Sayward’s youngest son, Chancey, who becomes a journalist and represents the rising post-frontier town and city generation of the 19th century.” – Wikipedia entry “The Awakening Land” . Historical Fiction set in Ohio.

The Free Man

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1943       

Story of a young emigrant from the Palatinate who sought political freedom among the Pennsylvania-Dutch.

The Light in the Forest

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1953       

Settlers and Indians in Pennsylvania and Ohio at the time of Bouquet’s expedition to free the captives of the Tuscarawas Indians in 1765.

A Country of Strangers

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1966       

Sequel to “The Light in the Forest”, also on this page.

Ansel’s Cave: A Story of Early Life in the Western Reserve

Riddle, Albert G.
Cleveland: Burrows 1893

Albert Gallatin Riddle (1816-1902) was raised in Newbury, OH, in the Western Reserve. He was a prosecuting attorney in Cleveland and a U.S. congressman, and also served as U.S. Consul at Matanzas, Cuba.

Bart Ridgeley; A Story of Northern Ohio

Riddle, Albert G.
Boston: Nichols and Hall 1873

See the biographical note about Riddle at Ansel’s Cave, on this page.

The Portrait; A Romance of Cuyahoga Valley

Riddle, Albert G.

See the biographical note about Riddle at Ansel’s Cave, on this page.

Paradise Falls

Robertson, Don
Putnam 1968       

Robust tale of business and social life and corruption in an Ohio town in the years following the Civil War.


Roth, Philip
Houghton Mifflin 2008       

“We are back in nineteen-fifties Newark, and nineteen-year-old Marcus Messner, the son of a kosher butcher, attempts to escape his father’s stifling influence by enrolling at a college in Ohio farm country. Messner is a scholarly type, while his new classmates are an unfriendly bunch of churchgoing, beer-swilling louts. Stubbornly disregarding overtures of friendship from members of the school’s only Jewish fraternity, Messner devotes his attentions to a troubled Gentile named Olivia Hutton. There’s something of Portnoy in the high jinks that follow, but Messner, fearful that he might ‘wind up a rifleman in Korea,’ is a far darker creation.” -New Yorker. Books set in Ohio.

“… And Ladies of the Club”

Santmyer, Helen Hooven
Ohio State University 1982       

“In 1868 in a small town in southwestern Ohio, a group of women form a literary club. Through the personal, political, and social upheavals of the next 64 years the club remains the one constant factor in the lives of these diverse women and their descendants.” Libr J
The author’s “perceptive saga is steeped not just in the changing political, religious, and social mores of the period covered, but also in the personal joys, sorrows, and scandals that beat the cadence of life in a midwestern town. This novel has an old-fashioned dignity and seriousness that will win some readers and lose others, and although its girth is perhaps its most notable quality, its literary scope and depth of feeling are equally impressive.” Booklist. Books set in Ohio.

The Visiting Physician

Shreve, Susan Richards
Talese 1996       

“Twenty-odd years ago, Helen Fielding suffered severe trauma on a visit to her aunt in small-town Ohio when her toddler sister disappeared while in Helen’s care. Now a doctor, Helen returns to Meridian as an outbreak of legionella threatens the town’s children. One child is dead, another has disappeared, and so has the town doctor. Meridian itself has lost its collective innocence after being the subject of an unscrupulous TV director’s documentary on the perfect small town. A well- structured method of revealing the past adds to the story’s appeal.” Libr J. Books set in Ohio.

Drayton: A Story of American Life

Shreve, Thomas H.
NY: Harper 1851

Thomas Hopkins Shreve (1808-1853) was a Quaker journalist who lived in New Jersey and then Cincinnati before moving to Louisville, KY, where he became an editor of the Louisville Journal. From 1847 to 1850 he was one of the Unitarian editors of the antislavery newspaper The Examiner, in Louisville. The group’s goal was to put an emancipation clause into the Kentucky state constitution.

A Simple Plan

Smith, Scott
Knopf 1993       

“When Hank Mitchell, his obese, feckless brother Jacob and Jacob’s smarmy friend Lou accidentally find a wrecked small plane and its dead pilot in the woods near their small Ohio town, they decide not to tell the authorities about the $4.4 million stuffed into a duffel bag. Instead, they agree to hide the money and later divide it among themselves. The ‘simple plan’ sets in motion a spiral of blackmail, betrayal and multiple murder.” Publ Wkly
This novel is so “cunningly imagined that for the most part Mr. Smith drags us willingly through what in less deft hands could be a morally repugnant story.” N Y Times Book Rev

The Unconquered: A Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy

Swanson, Neil H.
Doubleday 1947       

Story of the Pontiac Conspiracy of 1763 in the Ohio River region of the Pennsylvania frontier.

Clinton Bradshaw: or, The Adventures of a Lawyer. Two volumes in one

Thomas, Frederick W.
Cincinnati: Robinson and Jones 1847

Frederick William Thomas (1806-1866) lived in Cincinnati as a young man, working on his father’s newspaper. His career included spells as a literary editor at newspapers, professor of literature at the University of Alabama, lawyer in Maryland, and Methodist Episcopal minister in Cincinnati.

The Emigrant: or, Reflections while Descending the Ohio. A Poem

Thomas, Frederick W.
Cincinnati: Drake 1833

See the biographical note of Thomas at Clinton Bradshaw, on this page.

Howard Pinckney: A Novel

Thomas, Frederick W.
London: Clements 1841

See the biographical note of Thomas at Clinton Bradshaw, on this page.

Figs and Thistles: A Romance of the Western Reserve

Tourgee, Albion Winegar
NY: Fords, Howard & Hulbert 1879

Albion Winegar Tourgee (1838-1905) was born on a farm in Williamsfield, OH. He left college to enlist at the beginning of the Civil War, fought in several major battles, was wounded twice, and was a POW for a time. After the war he farmed in North Carolina and was appointed a Superior Court Judge, where he began a long career of activity on behalf of civil and voting rights for African Americans. In 1891 he was the lead attorney for Homer Plessy in the historic Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case, challenging a Louisiana “Separate but Equal” law.
-from Wikipedia

Night and the Stars: A Tale of the Western Reserve

Vincent, Clarence A.
Chicago: Winona 1906

This story begins in a farming community in the 1850s.

Deadeye Dick

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr.
Delacorte 1982       

“In Midland City, Ohio, the [WaItz] family is isolated and scorned by the community for patriarch Otto’s ersatz career as an artist and his strident support for Nazi policies. Their wealth and what’s left of their social position is decimated when younger son Rudy (Deadeye Dick) accidently shoots a pregnant woman. Father pleads guilty to the crime, Rudy becomes a night-shift pharmacist, author of the prize-winning but unsuccessful play ‘Katmandu’ and cook and maid for his useless mother. Brother Felix becomes the president of NBC, and mother dies of radiation emitted from the fireplace of their ‘shitbox’ home. The entire populace is eventually exterminated by the inadvertent dropping of a neutron bomb.” -SLJ

Leafy Rivers

West, Jessamyn
Harcourt 1967       

Life on a mid-western homestead and in Cincinnati around 1818.

Owen Glen

Williams, Ben Ames
Houghton Mifflin 1950       

“A historical novel about life in a small Ohio town in the 1890’s. Owen Glen, the central character, is a Welsh-born coal miner’s son. Owen’s life is described in detail up to the age of nineteen, when he himself had been working as a miner for five years.” -Book Rev Digest

The Raiders

Wilson, William E.
Rinehart 1955       

“A Civil War story set in Crescent City on the north shore of the Ohio River when it is taken over by the raiders – believed to be Morgan’s. Largely, it is the story of the town’s Mayor Clayburn as he sees the disaffection of the citizenry patterned within his own family – as two sons have opposite leanings and as different loyalties are worked out finally.” -Kirkus

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