Literature with Phonograph Connections


By Doug Boilesen 2012

In June of 1888 Edison's wrote that his "Perfected Phonograph" will soon be able to record "on four cylinders eight inches long, with a diameter of five... the whole of “Nicholas Nickleby” in phonogram form."

Naxos Audio Books created an unabridged version of Nicholas Nickleby in 2013 but it's on 29 CDs (not 4 Edison cylinder records).

PhonoLiterature, however, is not about audio books on phonograph records or on any medium except the printed page. It's a library of books, poetry, plays, 'sketches,' and short stories in which there is at least one phonograph connection in each written work.

The role of the phonograph in PhonoLiterature runs the gamut, from the single word of "gramophone" in T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland to the existential impact of the phonograph as seen in The Record by Ray Bradbury where the playing of a phonograph record saves humanity from extinction.

Some books have illustrations of the phonograph. Some have references to songs that were phonograph records. Whatever the phonograph connection each can be enjoyed by Friends of the Phonograph because each example is a reminder that the phonograph has been part of popular culture since December 6, 1877 when Edison's tinfoil phonograph repeated back to him "a little piece of practical poetry" - "Mary had a Little Lamb."

Scroll and select from the following bookshelf or use the alphabetized PhonoLiterature list in Phonographia's Table of Contents.

"A Recollection" by Mari Sandoz

"a live the Land of Oz" by L. Frank Baum , 1913

The Rocket Book by Peter Newell, 1912

The Christmas Secret by David Delamare, 1991


Tea Rex by Molly Idle, 2013

Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margret Rey & H.A. Rey, 1966

One of Ours by Willa Cather, 1922

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003





Scandal and A Gold Slipper by Willa Cather, (Youth and the Bright Medusa) 1920

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather 1915

Coming, Aphrodite! by Willa Cather, (Youth and the Bright Medusa) 1920

Another Adventure of Elsie and the Bunny by Cadbury Ltd., 1920




The Phonograph of Jean Bouvet by Henry S. Kingwell and written for the Talking Machine World, 1915

Abide / Poems by Jake Adam York, 2014

Albumazar, The Phonogram, February 1892

The Phonograph and the Graft by O. Henry McClure's Magazine, February 1903 (Disclaimer)



The Jukebox Man by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, 1998

Good Night Sesame Streetm by David Korr and Michael J. Smollin, 1978

What Happened To Mary, Episodes I and VII, August 1912 and January 1913

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, 2010


Dead Musicians poem by Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

The Phonograph Witness. A Drama in Five Acts by George W. Hill, 1883

Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories by Jean Shepherd, 1971

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, 1922


A Voyage to the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac, published in 1656

The Tribulations of a Chinaman by Jules Verne, 1879

The Castle of the Carpathians by Jules Verne, 1892

Le Courrier Veritable, 1632 pamphlet - 19th Century Engraving


How among the frozen words Pantagruel found some odd ones, by Francois Rabelais, 1653

Round the Fire: VIII The Story of the Japanned Box, by A. Conan Doyle, 1899


With the Eyes Shut by Edward Bellamy, October 1889

That Voice

A Phonograph related romance as it appeared in The Red Cloud Chief newspaper on June 20, 1878



Mr. Openeer's Christmas, The Phonoscope, November 1899

Love and the Phonograph

Cynthia's romance and the Phonograph as it appeared in The Phonoscope, March 1899

The Phonogram, June 1900

How We Gave a Phonograph Party

The Phonoscope,1899


The Phonograph in Country Towns

The Phonogram, October 1891


The Fateful Phonograph: Or, The Younger Brother's Revenge

From the Chicago Tribune as seen in The Red Cloud Chief p. 2, January 29, 1880


Newspaper image provided by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE

The Valentines' Victrola by Harriet Lummis Smith, 1919

The Magic of Melody by Edgar March - Maclean's Magazine, August 15, 1933


The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster, 1909

Pleasures of Music by Jacques Barzun, 1951.

The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin, 1962

Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin, 2016


The Revenge of Analog by David Sax, 2016

Keeping Time by Tim Dooley, 2008

The Phonograph Girls

The Phonograph Girls and Columbia's Twentieth Century Phonograph, The Talking Machine World, 1906

No Escape from Black Holes? by Dennis Overbye - The New York Times June 6, 2016


The Hurdy Gurdy Girl, a musical comedy by Richard Carle, 1907

The Girl He Left Behind Him

The Girl He Left Behind Him by Howard Taylor, The Talking Machine World, 1906

Needledee and Needledum

A Funnigraph Record by Peter Newell, The Ladies’ World, April-May 1914.

The Boys' Own Phonograph

by John Lewees, St. Nicholas magazine, January 1880


Kitchen Disco by Foges and Murphy, 2017 A Faber Picture Book

"Columbia and Victor" - A Vaudeville Act, 1918

The Big Book of Time by William Edmonds, 1994

Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge? by Jon Scieszka, 2002 (Time Travel to 1877)


Lost in the Grooves - Love letters to Albums by Cooper & Smay, 2005

Hauntiques by Thomas Kingsley Troupe, 2016

The Phonograph in Le Trocaderoscope, Paris, 1878

Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy, 1888


Just Imagine by Nick Sharrat and Pippa Goodhart, 2014

The Record by Ray Bradbury, 1939

The Miraculous Phonograph Record by William Saroyan, The Saturday Evening Post, September 1983

Phantoms & Phonographs by Ami Diane, 2019



Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley, 1928

Art & Max by David Wiesner, 2010

Ma Pettengill and the Song of Songs by Harry Leon Wilson, The Saturday Evening Post, August 1915

The Misadventures of Cassidy, by Edward S. Moffat, McClure's Magazine, May 1908


My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber, 1933

The Phonograph on the Side of Justice and Truth - A French Play, c. 1891, The Talking Machine World, 1907

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, 2014

McBroom's Ghost by Sid Fleischman, 1971


The Birthday cake by Sven Nordqvist, 2005

Great First Nights at the Lyceum by Ellen Terry, McClure's Magazine, February 1908

The Singer's Heart, by Harris Merton Lyon, McClure's Magazine, July 1908

A Gravestone Made of Wheat, by Will Weaver, 1989


Sounds illustrated by Bernard H. Robinson, 1975

Hail to Grandmas by Dana Moseley, San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, 1985

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 2014

From a Far Country - The Story of a Prima Donna's Birthday by Ina Brevoort Roberts, The Ladies' Home Journal, August 1900


My Dog by Fred Andrews, 1976

"Illustrated Records," A poem by Howard T. Middleton, 1909

Playette Phone Book by Larry Wise and M. Goldsmith, 1945

Anam Cara - A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue, 2022


"Black Rock Portraits on the Playa.
by Douglas Keister 1990






"Fair Fiction" PhonoLiterature (2)

Samantha at the World's Fair by Josiah Allen's Wife,1893



The City of Wonders Souvenir of the World's Fair by Mary Catherine Crowley, 1894


The Adventures of Uncle Jeremiah and Family at the Great Fair, by Charles McCellan Stevens, 1893


The Century World's Fair Book for Boys and Girls by Tudor Jenks, 1893



The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, 2003


A Gravestone Made of Wheat by Will Weaver, 1989


Love and Other Consolation Prizes - Seattle World's Fairs 1909 and 1962


Welcome to Samantha's World 1904



The Phonograph in 1614 - The Phonogram, February 1892

"The Tables Turned" - Harper's Young People December 5, 1893

The Talking Machine World, March 1923

The Talking Machine World, October 1923

The Talking Machine World, April 1923