The critical reception to Winesburg, Ohio upon its publication in 1919 was mostly positive, even effusive. Hart Crane, for example, wrote that "...America should read this book on her knees," while H.L. Mencken wrote that Winesburg, Ohio "...embodies some of the most remarkable writing done in America in our time". Despite criticism that Anderson’s "sordid tales" were humorless, and "mired...in plotlessness", Winesburg, Ohio did well enough that it was reprinted several times, selling a total of about 3,000 copies by 1921.[note 3]
The popularity of Winesburg, Ohio among readers and critics has remained fairly high, only fluctuating slightly with Sherwood Anderson’s literary reputation which, while steady through the 1920s, began to decline in the 1930s, until William L. Phillips, following the lukewarm reception of The Letters of Sherwood Anderson in 1953, commented that "...Anderson is out of fashion." Throughout that decade, however, the author and his most popular book were the subject of a "...re-examination, if only as a neglected literary ancestor of the moderns." Into the 1960s and beyond, this "re-examination" became a "reevaluation" by critics who today generally consider Winesburg, Ohio a modern classic.