1913 Publisher’s Weekly Bestsellers

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, September 28, 1913: Went to Sunday School this morning. Most of the people went away this morning leaving Ma and me at home. I got pretty lonesome for awhile, but afterwards got company.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I suppose Grandma and her mother had to stay home to feed the livestock and milk the cows. Where did everyone else go?

Before the company came, what did Grandma do? Maybe she read a book. When I’m lonely I often read books.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a list of 1913 books that are still popular according to Goodreads.

I’ve found another list of books—the Publishers Weekly list of 1913 bestselling novels.

The lists are very different—many of the 1913 bestsellers were written by authors I’ve never heard of –and many of the books that stood the test of time were sleepers a hundred years ago.

Bestselling Novels in 1913

1. The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill

2. V.V.’s Eyes by Henry Sydnor Harrison

3. Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter

4. The Judgment House by Gilbert Parker

5. Heart of the Hills by John Fox, Jr.

6. The Amateur Gentleman by Jeffrey Farnol

7. The Woman Thou Gavest Me by Hall Caine

8. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

9. The Valiants of Virginia by Hallie Erminie Rives

10. T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Hmm. . . I read Pollyanna when I was a child. I think that it’s the only book of this list that I’ve ever heard of.  I wonder if people still read it.

I googled The Inside of the Cup by Winston Churchill, and discovered that there were two Winston Churchill’s—the British statesmen and the American novelist who wrote this book.



22 Responses

  1. My first thought when seeing your picture was which Winston Churchill wrote it. My assumption was right. I may have to find this book and read it. I have read several others by Churchill, including Richard Carvel and The Crisis.

    I have two other books from the list on my shelf at home and they are also on my list of favorite books: Pollyanna and Laddie

  2. I did not know that there were two Winston Churchills! I have read Pollyanna and I know of Laddie, and the writer Frances Hodgson Burnett, but not the book T Temboram. A fascinating list.

  3. Is Laddie a story about a dog?

    • According to the LibriVox site Laddie is:

      “Based on the author’s own life, this book tells the story of “little sister”. The youngest of eleven, she is unwanted in the beginning. The brother who loved her most, and whom she loved most in the world, is Laddie. She is almost lonely, and it’s hard for her to study, so her comfort is nature. In an unforgettable way, which is funny and sad, little sister tells us her story.”


      • Ahh. I think there was also a movie. There was Lassie Come home (starring Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl) and then one about Laddie. That is what I was getting mixed up with.

  4. What an interesting post. And two Winston Churchills! Poor grandma felt a bit left out? Glad for her there was company later on;0)

  5. No TV to turn on, no internet to play on – would make sense to reach for a book…

  6. Some of the tiles sound very interesting, I have only read Pollyanna.

  7. Now why wouldn’t Grandma say who the company was???? I tell you: she’s teasing us!
    Interesting about the two Winston Churchills!

  8. Hi. My Mom loved the book ‘The Woman Thou Gavest Me’. My bookshelves are so crammed, I can’t find it but I am sure I have it. Jane

    • Your comment made me curious about this book, so I googled the author to learn more about it. This is what Wikipedia said:

      “The next major work was The Woman Thou Gavest Me, published in 1913, which “caused the biggest furore of any of his novels”.[20] Libraries objected to its morals, dealing as it did with the divorce laws of the time and attitudes towards illegitimacy. Once again it addressed the Woman Question. However it sold extremely well. It was reprinted five times before the end of the year when nearly half a million copies had been sold. Despite the storm of criticism, or maybe because of it, Caine’s reputation as a novelist had been restored.”


      It sounds interesting. I’m going to have to look for it.

  9. Hi Again. I also have ‘Laddie’ by Gene Stratton Porter. Jane

  10. Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote “the Secret Garden”, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” and “the Little Princess”, all of which have been repeatedly filmed. I have never heard of the book “T. Temboran” but I’ll bet it’s available for free download somewhere – it MUST be out of copyright by now!

    • Thanks for the additional information. I can remember reading Little Lord Fauntleroy years ago. It’s interesting how Burnett (as well as some of the other author’s on this list) had other books that are better known today than the ones from 1913.

  11. Oddly, Wikipedia lists no book published by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1913, and no title it lists by her has the faintest resemblance to “T. Temboran”. I wonder what was meant in this article.

  12. However, the book
    is listed on Amazon. I read a few pages – seems like a rags-to-riches story on the Horatio Alger mode.

  13. I’m reading an FDR biography right now and just learned that there were two Winston Churchills. I just learned that the novelist worked as FDR’s publicist early in his political career. Isn’t it funny that there were two of them and both were connected to the president?

  14. I’ve heard of Laddie and Pollyanna but not the others. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the back breaking work and how it would leave my hands – all that corn. But I would have enjoyed the lack of other distractions to be able to read. I wonder how they read books without a kindle …

  15. That’s interesting about Winston Churchill. I hadn’t heard of the books except Pollyanna but haven’t read it.

  16. […] It’s obviously not what Grandma was considering reading because it was published in 1913, but I just finished reading The Woman Thou Gavest Me by Hall Caine. It was #7 on the Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list for 1913. […]

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