|Although most areas of the literary work of William Dean Howells have received a relatively large scholarly scrutiny, one important segment has been virtually neglected. This is the short story, which Howells began writing early in his career and which was his major creative output during the last twenty years of his life. The purpose of this study is to establish Howells' short story canon, to study the works included in the canon, and to reach some conclusions concerning Howells as a short story writer and concerning the short stories themselves. After the initial step of examination of a commonly acceptable definition of the short story and Howells' concept of the short story, the second step was the determining of which of Howells' writings properly belong to the type, Titles have been gathered from listings in major bibliographies plus suggestions found in works by other Howells scholars, a thorough search of The Atlantic Monthly and other magazines in which Howells published, and references in Howells' published letters and bibliographical writings, After the works designated as short stories by bibliographers or other scholars had been collected, the remaining short works that are not categorized were considered. One of the problems was that some of the shorter pieces are simply listed, thus necessitating exclusion of such forms as narrative poems and essays. Once the listing was narrowed to short works or prose fiction, the final examination was undertaken. Each work was considered for length and magnitude and other short story characteristics, including conscious but limited plot development, characterization, setting, singleness and unity of effect. This process resulted in a count of forty-five short stories written between 1853 and 1917. The short stories were then analyzed in terms of setting, characterization, point of view, structure, and theme. The study reveals a rapid and steady progress toward realism as the controlling factor in the choice of material, the strictly technical elements, and the themes of Howells' short stories. Most of the same major characteristics are evidenced in the short stories as in the novels; and although most modern readers a.re unfamiliar with Howells' short stories, a number certainly would bear comparison with those of better known short story writers. Overall, the major strengths and weaknesses of Howells' short stories lie in his theory of literary realism, effectively carried out in his short stories, which contains its own inherent limitations.