The Thai literary canon identifies three novels published around 1929 as the first authentic Thai novels. This pronouncement elides the importance of novels published before that date. Because literary scholars focus their teaching, writing and research on novels defined by the canon, lesser-known works have been overlooked or ignored. The current Thai canon obfuscates literary transmission, in particular, the significance of pre-1929 compositions. In this essay, three novels – Mae Wan's Khwam phayabat (1902), Khru Liam's Khwam mai phayabat (1915) and Nang neramid (1916) – are selected to show that these early compositions represent important genres of novels that should be considered for the canon, even though they are seen as less than ‘authentic’ Thai. This paper examines the three novels through the lens of critical, translation and postcolonial theories. It is a study of vernacularisation, authenticity, hybridity, mimesis, and bi-culturalism.