Fiction Set in Indiana – Novels That Take Place in Indiana or are from Indiana Authors

Seth Way

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.

Adversary in the House

Stone, Irving
Doubleday 1947

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

A Daughter of the Land

Stratton-Porter, Gene
Toronto: 1918

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.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors


Stratton-Porter, Gene
NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1904

Books set in Indiana.

Alice Adams

Tarkington, Booth
Doubleday 1921

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

The Gentleman from Indiana

Tarkington, Booth
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”.

The Turmoil, a Novel

Tarkington, Booth
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

The Rose of Love

Teal, Angeline
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.

Alice of Old Vincennes

Thompson, Maurice
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”

A Banker of Bankersville: a Novel

Thompson, Maurice
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.

Sweetheart Manette

Thompson, Maurice
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1901

Books set in Indiana.

The Salt and the Savor

Troyer, Howard W.
Wyn 1950

Chronicles the development of Indiana from pioneer days to the Civil War; development of the Grange movement, daily life and customs. Books set in Indiana.

Hiram Blair

Tufts, Drew
Chicago: McClurg 1912

Books set in Indiana.

Except for Thee and Me

West, Jessamyn
Harcourt 1969

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.

The Friendly Persuasion

West, Jessamyn
Harcourt 1945nbsp;

Episodes in the life of a Quaker family in Indiana, including a minor Civil War encounter. Books set in Indiana.

The Massacre at Fall Creek

West, Jessamyn
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

The Witch Diggers

West, Jessamyn
Harcourt 1951

Picture of life on a farm in Southern Indiana in 1899. Novels set in Indiana.

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