William Harben

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William Nathaniel Harben (5 July 1858 – 7 August 1919) was one of the most popular American authors of the early 20th century. He specialized in stories about the people of the mountains of Northern Georgia. He was sometimes credited as Will N. Harben or Will Harben.[1]

Harben was born in 1858 in Dalton, Georgia to a rich family. He grew up to be a merchant in that same town. At age 30, Harben started writing stories. In 1889, he wrote his first bestseller, Slave, a story of a white girl raised in slavery in the American South.[1] After the publication of this novel, moved his family to New York City.

Harben's next novel, Almost Persuaded (1890), was a religious novel. The novel gained enough attention that Queen Victoria requested a copy of it. Harben then published Mute Confessor (1892), a romantic novel, and Land of the Changing Sun (1894), a science fiction novel. He also produced three detective novels during this decade.[1]

Harben achieved his greatest literary success with Northern Georgia Sketches (1900), a collection of short stories about Georgia "hillbillies". He became a protegee and friend of William Dean Howells. Two of his memorable characters were mountaineers Abner Daniel and Pole Baker, rustic philosophers and comedic characters.[1]

Harben died in New York City in 1919 at age 61.


  • Slave (1889)
  • Almost Persuaded (1890)
  • Mute Confessor (1892)
  • The Land of the Changing Sun (1894)
  • Northern Georgia Sketches (1900)
  • The Georgians (1904)
  • The Triumph (1917)
  • The Desired Woman (1918 novel and screenplay for 1918 film)
  • Love Never Dies (screenplay for 1921 film)


  1. ^ a b c d Murphy, James K. "Will Harben (1858-1919)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 February 2016.

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