Home » Great Lakes States Directory » Wisconsin Fiction

Books Set in Wisconsin – Books Based in Wisconsin – Wisconsin Novels

This Webpage has links to free online fiction books set in Wisconsin or written by Wisconsin authors.  Some are vintage 19th century novels, but most are from recent decades.  Many book entries have descriptions.

Wisconsin Fiction Collection

Novels set in Wisconsin. This group of 100 modern books by major publishers, free and online, was found in a search for ‘Wisconsin Fiction’ in the Internet Archive book collection. The metadata in their database entries indicates that these are books that take place in Wisconsin.
Some authors are: Lori Wick, Celia Wilkins, LaVyrle Spencer, Stephen King, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Katherine Hannigan, Maria D. Wilkes, P. J. Tracy, Carol Ryrie Brink, Lyn Cote, Ann Packer, Michelle Jerott, Pamela Ford, Elizabeth Nunez, Dorothy Garlock, Kathryn Springer, Flynn Meaney, Sharon De Vita, Hamlin Garland, Ellen Hart, Fran Shaff, Rosalind Noonan, John R. Riggs, Rick Harsch, Sandra Kring, Patrick Somerville, Kathryn Quick, Betty Ren Wright.

Be patient as the page loads. Books set in Wisconsin, books based in Wisconsin.

‘Collections’ take longer to appear on your screen than single books.  On a phone, only about 25 books in a collection may appear.

Julius the Street Boy; or Life in the West

Alger, Horatio
NY: Burt 1874

“Horatio Alger, Jr. (1834-99) was a prolific writer of dime novel stories for boys. From the debut of his first novel, Ragged Dick, in 1867, Alger was instrumental in establishing a new genre of dime novels known as the ‘city story.’ The genre arose out of the wide-spread urbanization that followed the Civil War and paralleled the rise of industrialism. Alger’s stories heroicized the young street urchins living in poverty among large, urban centers such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. With uncommon courage and moral fortitude, Alger’s youths struggle against adversity to achieve great wealth and acclaim. These rags to riches stories were enormously popular with the public and flourished in the decades from 1870 to 1890.”
– From Stanford University’s “Dime Novel and Story Paper Collection” online. Books set in Wisconsin, books based in Wisconsin.

Midnight Champagne; A Novel

Ansay, A. Manette
Morrow 1999

“A snowbound wedding at a brothel turned resort in Wisconsin is the setting for this hectic, entertaining tale about love and compromise. Can arty, beleaguered April find happiness with Caleb, the earnest son of a fundaentalist minister? Ansay creates a zany tribunal from the guest list—spurned aunts, awkward teen-agers, a grandmother who searches for lucky pennies as if her life depended on it—and by the novel’s end the answer is that everyone, including the reader, hopes so.” -New Yorker. Books set in Wisconsin.

River Angel: A Novel

Ansay, A. Manette
Morrow 1998 Dewey Dec. 973.91

“A rural legend—of an angel watching over a river— provides the framework for this . . . novel about faith
and its power to transform individuals and a community. When odd, overweight Gabriel Carpenter comes to Ambient, Wisconsin, he’s taunted by other children and instantly disliked by his fifth-grade teacher. One night, teenagers, drinking and up to no good, take Gabriel to the bridge, where he somehow jumps, slips, or is pushed into the river; then his body is found, warm and fragrant, lying in a distant barn, presumably delivered there by the river angel. The legend is reborn, the barn becomes a shrine, and a small town struggling with progress is given new life.” Booklist. Books set in Wisconsin, novels set in Wisconsin.

We have thousands of free books of short stories, and hundreds in audio

My Uncle Jan

Auslander, Joseph and Wordemann, Audrey
Longmans 1948

Old World customs and festivals among an ebullient family of Czech immigrants, set in Wisconsin in the 1800’s. Historical fiction books set in Wisconsin.

The Golden Justice

Bishop, William Henry
Boston: Riverside 1890

Bishop (1847-1929) was a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale. He studied architecture after finishing college and then was the editor and proprietor of the Milwaukee Commercial Times for nine years. He afterward was an instructor at Yale and then served as the U.S. Consul in Genoa and Palermo. He published many books and contributed articles to leading magazines. This book takes place in Milwaukee. Books that take place in Wisconsin, novels set in Wisconsin.

The Night of the Ripper

Bloch, Robert
TOR 1986

A novel based on the Jack the Ripper murders in London, 1888.

The Sheriff of Silver Bow

Braley, Berton
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1921

The author was the son of Arthur Briggs Braley, a municipal judge in Madison, WI who wrote on literary and political subjects and was a well-known Shakespeare scholar. Berton was born in Madison and graduated from UW-Madison in 1905. He began writing short stories, articles and verse commercially while still a boy, and continued throughout his life to be a free-lance journalist and writer, traveling widely. In a profile published in 1937, Braley was said to have written over 450 short stories and about 10,000 poems, in addition to numerous articles for the press.

Songs of the Workaday World

Braley, Berton
NY: Doran 1915

For biographical info, see Braley’s other entry on this page.

Mr. Braley’s poems, written with swinging rhythm and facile rhyme, are familiar to readers of newspaper and magazine verse. Those collected in this book are arranged in seven groups: Songs of the workaday world; Songs of the inland seas; Songs of deep water; Western ballads; Songs of the copper country; Songs of the long trail; Songs of the true romance.
-Book Review Digest
“A collection of swinging, vigorous verse written by an American for Americans. He knows the heart of labor, the brains of labor, and the temper of the men who do the dangerous everyday work of the world. His poems are excellent for reading aloud.”
– American Review of Reviews.

Caddie Woodlawn

Brink, Carol
Macmillan 1935

Chronicles the adventures of eleven-year-old Caddie growing up with her six brothers and sisters on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-nineteenth century. Pioneer life; books set in Wisconsin, novels based in Wisconsin.

Deacon White’s Idees

Brown, Stirling Wilson
Boston:Mayhew 1905

A story of a pioneer farmer in western Wisconsin. The author was a native of La Crosse, WI. Books set in Wisconsin.

Two Wilderness Voyagers; A True Tale of Indian Life

Calkins, Franklin Welles
New York: Revell 1908

Calkins (1857-1928) was born in Iowa Co., WI, and read law for three years early in his career. He lived much of his life on the western frontier, and was an early explorer of the Black Hills country. He visited many Indian tribes and became familiar with Indian languages. He also had an interest in animal and bird life of the plains and mountains. He wrote mainly about the frontier and Indians.

The Wooing of Tokala : An Intimate Tale of the Wild Life of the American Indian Drawn from Camp and Trail

Calkins, Franklin Welles
New York: Revell 1907

For biographical info, see the other entry for Calkins on this page.

“With only a thread of a story in the conventional sense, this is a thoroughly competent study of a group of Dakotah and Sioux Indians. Their habits, traditions, and point of view are given with a detail which though painstaking is never tiresome.”
“He makes his Indians quite plain, as creatures in the toils of tradition and beliefs which they must obey. His style is clear and simple, attaining excellent effects by dint of completely avoiding self-conscious and labored efforts. In fact, the whole book contains matter of real interest, which is conveyed without parade of knowledge and with a total absence of trick or mannerism.”
– The Book Review Digest

Boss Bart, Politician; a Western Story of Love and Politics

Chapple, Joe Mitchell
NY: Neely 1896

For biographical information about the author, see his other entry on this page. Books set in Wisconsin

The Minor Chord : a Tale of the Middle West in the early ’70s

Chapple, Joe Mitchell
Boston: Chapple 1912

Chapple (1867-1950) was born in Iowa. In his early career he was a newspaper man in North Dakota and Chicago, and was for nearly a decade the editor and proprietor of the Ashland Daily Press in Wisconsin. In 1897 he went to Boston to take over editorship of the Bostonian, which was later re-named the National Magazine.

Puritan and Pagan

Corbett, Elizabeth Frances
NY: Holt 1920

For biographical info about the author, see Corbett’s other entry on this page.

Nancy Desmond is the puritan, Mary Allen the pagan. Nancy is a painter with a studio on Washington Square. Mary Allen is a distinguished actress. Max Meredith, who has married one of Nancy’s college friends, comes to New York on business and looks her up. They see much of one another during his stay and find to their dismay that they have fallen in love. True to her instincts and her ideals Nancy sends Max away from her. In the meantime, Roger Greene, Nancy’s friend and teacher, has become infatuated with Mary and between these two there is no question of renunciation. They accept their love as a fact although Mary refuses marriage. When Nancy learns of the affair she is crushed and finds how much Roger has meant to her. Later after a long separation, after she has seen Max again and after the other love has run its course, Nancy and Roger come together.
– Book Review Digest
“The author has vividly portrayed several phases of New York life and analyzed skillfully several original characters, without forgetting that her main purpose was to tell a very old and very human story.”
– N.Y. Evening Post

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

The Vanished Helga

Corbett, Elizabeth Frances
NY: Doran 1918

Corbett (1887-1981) lived with her family at the Northwestern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Milwaukee for 25 years (near present-day Miller Park), where her father worked as an administrator. She continued to live in Milwaukee for several years afterward, before moving to New York. Corbett graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 1910, quickly becoming a novelist and short story writer. In addition to many other works, in 1941 she published Out at the Soldiers’ Home, an autobiographical account of her years there.

Jim Whittaker meets Zoe Lenox at the home of his friends, the Evingtons. She is a very
beautiful and a very proud and cold young woman of unlimited wealth. Her one passion is the sea. Shortly after, she asks Whittaker to cruise with her and the Evingtons on her yacht, the Helga. Jim goes on board at the appointed time and does not learn till the boat is under way that the other guests have been detained and that he is sailing alone with the goddess. Her caprice takes them into the Antarctic where they are all but wrecked by the floating ice, drifting about for days with little hope of rescue. It is at this time that the girl’s proud poise breaks down and she gives herself up to her awakened love for Whittaker. Once returned to land however, her old manner is resumed, and the latter half of the story has to do with the stormy years that follow before her stubborn determination is finally softened.
– Book Review Digest

The Hills Stand Watch

Derleth, August
NY: Duell, Sloan & Pierce 1960

Pioneer life in a small lead-mining town in Wisconsin in the 1840’s; local politics and the movement toward statehood, trouble with the Indians, and details of lead mining. Books set in Wisconsin.
August Derleth (1909 -1971) was raised in Sauk City, WI, and wrote many works about Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, in a collection he called the “Sac Prairie Saga”. He was an incredibly prolific writer, publishing, in his own estimate, upward of 3,000 individual works in approximately 350 magazines, in addition to numerous books. Books set in Wisconsin.

The House on the Mound

Derleth, August
Duell 1958

The adventures of Hercules Dousman, an agent of the John Jacob Astor fur trading company in the Northwest Territory, and railroad builder. Books set in Wisconsin.

The Shadow in the Grass

Derleth, August
Duell 1963

Biographical novel of Nelson Dewey, first governor of Wisconsin, who came to Wisconsin Territory from New York in 1836. Books based in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Plays

Dickinson, Thomas H., ed.
NY: Huebsch 1922

Original one-act plays from the repertory of the Wisconsin Dramatic Society. The authors were Zona Gale, Thomas H. Dickinson and William Ellery Leonard.

We have hundreds of Free Novels set in different places in the U.S.

Big River, Big Man

Duncan, Thomas W.
Lippincott 1959

“Jim Buckmaster, nineteenth-century Wisconsin logger turned ruthless empire builder, is only one of the focal figures in a sprawling novel that takes its many characters into the north woods, New Mexico, New England, and the Civil War South.” – Booklist

Wild Goose, Brother Goose

Ellis, Mel
Grosset and Dunlap 1971

“In this warm and beautifully written novel, well-known outdoorsman and wildlife expert Mel Ellis recounts the adventures and journeys of Duke, a wild Canada goose, during a two-year period of his life. Based on Mr. Ellis’s keen observations of a real gander’s experiences, the story is an exciting saga of Duke’s incredible will to live as he faces almost certain disasters in the form of hunters’ guns, traps, tornadoes, etc.” – Book cover.
Author Mel Ellis (1912-1984) grew up on a farm near Beaver Dam, WI, where he learned trapping and hunting from his father. After WWII service in the U.S. Army Air Force he worked for newspapers, and for 16 years was the Outdoors Editor for the Milwaukee Journal.

Buttered Side Down; Stories

Ferber, Edna
NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1912

For biographical info of Edna Ferber, see her other entry on this page.

A dozen stories of breadwinners, women chiefly, whose bread invariably falls with the buttered side down. The types are chosen from among shop girls principally, and they are portrayed not as duncolored strugglers, pitiful to contemplate, but valiant or depressed, they are romantic human beings, experiencing the emotions which make all the world kin. Humor and crisp dialog abound as in the author’s “Dawn O’Hara.” The stories are The frog and the puddle: The man who came back: What she wore; A bush league hero; The kitchen side of the door; One of the old girls; Maymeys from Cuba; The leading lady; That home-town feeling; The homely heroine; Sun dried; Where the car turns at 18th.
– Book Review Digest
“Exceedingly slangy, occasionally flippant, amusing and uncommonly real stories of shopgirls, stenographers, actresses and other working women.”
– A. L. A. Booklist

Come and Get It

Ferber, Edna
Doubleday 1935

“This story relates realistically the rise and fall of the lumber industry in Wisconsin and Michigan from 1850 to date. Of good Scotch-Irish stock, Barney Glasgow was a smart chore-boy who rose fast, married the boss’s daughter, owned the great paper-mills and camps, and at fifty-three was the richest man in Wisconsin. The story swings from the family home at Butte de Morts on Lake Winnebago to the north woods camps, to Europe, and back during the financial crash, closing with Barney’s two grandchildren. The title is a camp cook’s call to meals.” -Booklist. Books set in Wisconsin.

Fanny Herself

Ferber, Edna
NY: Grosset and Dunlap 1917

Born in Kalamazoo, MI, Ferber (1885-1968) moved with her family to Chicago and Iowa before settling in Appleton, WI at age 12. After graduating from high school, she was a reporter on the Appleton Daily Crescent and later the Milwaukee Journal before publishing her first novel. Fanny Herself, a story of a young girl coming of age in Appleton at the turn of the 20th century, is generally considered to have been based on Ferber’s own experiences. Regarded by many as the “greatest American woman novelist of her day,” Ferber would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1925 for So Big. She was also the author of Showboat and Cimarron, which along with other of her later works were successfully adapted for stage and screen. Three of her books were developed into musicals.

Fanny Brandeis, like Miss Ferber’s Emma McChesney, was a successful business woman. Her mother, Molly Brandeis, who, after her husband’s death, ran Brandeis’ Bazaar in the little middle western town of Winnebago, was also a good business woman, but she died of pneumonia, brought on by overwork, when Fanny was twenty-four. Then Fanny, swayed by “a bitter sorrow, and ambition, and resentment” made up her mind to crush out sympathy and unselfishness and the artistic impulse in herself, and to mold herself into “a hard, keen-eyed resolute woman, whose godhead was to be success, and to whom success would mean money and position.” She went to work in the Haynes-Cooper mall order house, where she made good, and in a few years was earning her $10,000. Then she had to choose between a still greater business success with Michael Fenger, former manager of the Haynes-Cooper concern, and a chance to develop her talent as a cartoonist and to marry Clarence Heyl, who had loved her for years, and who did not see the real values of life in terms of cash. Other characters are Father Fitzpatrick, the Catholic priest in Winnebago; Ella Monahan, buyer for the glove department of Haynes-Cooper; and Fanny’s brother, Theodore, the young violinist, to secure whose musical education Mrs. Brandeis and her daughter had made such sacrifices. Emma McChesney also plays a very slight part in the story. – Book Review Digest. Novels set in Wisconsin.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Pete Crowther; Salesman

Ferris, Elmer Ellsworth
NY: Doubleday 1913

Ferris (1861-1929) was born in Lamartine, in Fond du Lac County, WI, and attended high school in Beaver Dam. He began his career as a lawyer in Nebraska and then was ordained in the Baptist ministry, serving in La Crosse, Milwaukee and New Jersey. In 1909 he retired from the ministry, becoming a traveling salesman and then a sales manager. His stories were mostly about salesmanship or business.

Pete Crowthir is a typical American hustler who, with good nature, sound common sense, and shrewd business ability, sells goods on the road. The story tells of his rise in life from a position as clerk in a country store to that of salesman for a big wholesale house. – Book Review Digest

Scroll to Top