Harry Lewis Sinclair Essay

1554 words - 7 pages

Harry Lewis Sinclair was born in Sauk, Centre Minnesota on February 7, 1885. Growing up he had two brothers and a father who worked as a physician. His mother died when he was six years old and his father would soon remarry. Feeling unaccomplished with himself, Lewis tried to run away and join the Spanish-American war in 1898, but he was unsuccessful (Borgoin).
In 1903 Lewis enrolled at Yale University, where he wrote many pieces of literature. Over the summer he traveled to England, little did he know it would be the start of many other travels around the world. Lewis came back to Yale in the fall, but soon left again and became a janitor at a Utopia ran by Upton Sinclair. He would only stay for a few months and then travel to many other places. Lewis graduated from Yale in 1907. After college he traveled to Iowa, New York, California, and Washington D.C. Though he was working as a newspaper reporter, he would try and sell his short stories. In 1914, Lewis marries Grace Hegger. They would have a son name Wells, who is killed in World War II. (Borgoin)
Early in the 1920’s Lewis came out with Main Street. The Story according to Howes, “centered on what Lewis would term “the village virus”, meaning the negative effects of life in the stifling atmosphere of a small U.S. town.” (Howes). Main Street was a best-seller although many people were not big fans of the novel. In 1922, Lewis wrote a novel called Babbitt, which also gained popularity. According to Borgoin “the reason for Babbitt’s success is that Lewis, never a master of literary realism despite his rotational skills, deliberately wrote in a fantastic, almost surrealistic style.” (Borgoin). In 1926, Lewis came out with Arrowsmith , and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Babbitt, but he declined the award since he felt that Babbitt should’ve have won many years ago. (Howe)
In his later years, Lewis lived in different parts of Europe, where he was struggling to find publishers and his popularity went spiraling down. He was accused of not being the actual winner of the Nobel Prize. People believed that novelist, Theodore Dreiser was the better author. Lewis soon isolated himself from people and his family. He died of heart seizures on January 10, 1951, just outside of Rome.

Historical Issues

The Roaring Twenties was a time where numerous new buildings would come up in cities. People listened to jazz from the newly invented radio. Gangs formed due the prohibition law, which made alcohol illegal. The 1920’s brought a new wave of literature where Sinclair Lewis came out with many of his popular novels.
Buildings started to emerge in numerous cities, making people move into the city from the country- side and find work there. Suburbs also began to spring up as many families moved into them so the man of the house can be closer to work. People then joined a movement of consumerism, which had everyone buying the same good from accessible places at affordable...

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