Stowe, Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain: these are just a few of the world-class novelists of nineteenth-century America. The nineteenth-century American novel was a highly fluid form, constantly evolving in response to the turbulent events of the period and emerging as a key component in American identity, growth, expansion and the Civil War. Gregg Crane tells the story of the American novel from its beginnings in the early republic to the end of the nineteenth century. Treating the famous and many less well-known works, Crane discusses the genre's major figures, themes and developments. He analyses the different types of American fiction - romance, sentimental fiction, and the realist novel - in detail, while the historical context is explained in relation to how novelists explored the changing world around them. This comprehensive and stimulating introduction will enhance students' experience of reading and studying the whole canon of American fiction.