Wrote Carl Smith: "The Cliff-Dwellers is a master work of Chicago and American urban realism. Henry Blake Fuller had no equal in understanding the complex human dynamics of the transformations that accompanied the creation of modern city life, including the vague but vivid hopes these changes inspired and the confusion and disappointments they inflicted. The novel is a brilliant realization of the social life and mentality of this place and time." Another reviewer noted: "Henry Blake Fuller's depiction of social climbing and human depravity among the 'cliff-dwelling' residents and workers in the new Chicago skyscrapers shocked readers of the time, and influenced many American writers that followed. With its frenetic pace and many interrelated stories, it remains a compelling document of Chicago's social history, as well as a searing indictment of modern American life at the close of the nineteenth century."
In 1918, when Henry Blake Fuller was 62 years old, he completed the manuscript of a novel, Bertram Cope’s Year. Though Fuller was well known as an accomplished realist and had published twelve previous novels, this work was his first published fiction to address the topic of homosexuality. In the novel Bertram Cope, a handsome young college student, is befriended by Medora Phillips, a wealthy older woman who tries to match him with several eligible young women. However, Bertram is emotionally attached only to his friend and housemate, Arthur Lemoyne. The novel’s portrayal of their friendship is subtle, but has clear overtones of sexual attraction.
Appendices focus on the novel’s composition, reception, and place in contemporary discourses about attraction between men.