Charity in Literature


A Secret Gift:  How One Man’s Kindness—and A Trove of Letters—Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup
An inspiring true story of neighborly grassroots philanthropy. An investigative reporter tracks down the descendants of families helped during the Depression by small anonymous gifts from a businessman in their home town of Canton, Ohio—revealing the lasting consequences of that well-timed aid.

The Perfect Gift and Giving Well, Doing Good both edited by Amy Kass
Two large collections of readings, mostly literary, that explore the enterprise of philanthropy. Selections range from the classic to the very contemporary, and include considerations of why, how, to whom, and what we should give. Read Joseph Bottum’s review of The Perfect Gift and Scott Walter’s review of Giving Well, Doing Good for Philanthropy.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens,
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens,
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens,
The Warden by Anthony Trollope,
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Nineteenth-century novels that touch on compassion, charity, and kind versus unkind interventions in the lives of others.