Sinclair Lewis - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Picture of Sinclair Lewis, author of Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, and Dodsworth; novelist, playwright / dramatist, and social critic; twentieth century American Literature
Sinclair Lewis   (1885 - 1951)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  February 7, 1885
Sauk Centre, Minnesota, United States
Died:  January 10, 1951
Rome, Italy
Related authors:
Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, John Dos Passos
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Sinclair Lewis - LIFE STORIES
2/7/1885     Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre
On this day in 1885 Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. The argument which Lewis had with his hometown is celebrated not only in Lewis's Main Street but in a forgotten memoir by his first wife, With Love from Gracie. This includes the funny story of how the newlyweds escaped from town in a Model T Ford turned into a camper-van; it also tries to figure what made Lewis such a driven, discontented man.
5/5/1926     Sinclair Lewis: Won't Pulitzer, Will Nobel
American literature in the 1920s did not belong to F. Scott Fitzgerald's glitterati, or to Ernest Hemingway's expatriates, but to Sinclair Lewis and SmallTown USA -- Main Street in 1920, and then at a two-year pace, Babbitt, Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, and Dodsworth. These books, and the little game Lewis played with the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes awarded for them, would become the most famous chapter in his controversial career.
10/23/1920     Life on Main Street
On this day in 1920 Sinclair Lewis's Main Street was published. This was the first of a string of hit novels over the next decade, most of which poked and scolded at the puritan terrors of small town life-conformity, boosterism, "a range of grotesque vulgarity," says one critic, "which but for him would have left no record." A Pulitzer (rejected) and eventually a Nobel (accepted) would follow.
11/5/1930     Sinclair Lewis's Nobel No Joke
On this day in 1930, Sinclair Lewis received notice that he had won the Nobel Prize. The phone call from Sweden caught Lewis off guard; his first response was to treat it as a prank.
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Sinclair Lewis: Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth
by Sinclair Lewis, Richard R. Lingeman (Editor)
Sinclair Lewis: Main Street & Babbitt
by Sinclair Lewis, John Hersey (Editor)
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Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street
by Richard R. Lingeman
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Online Books Page
Find electronic texts of Arrowsmith, Babbitt, Cass Timberlane, Dodsworth, Gideon Planish, Kingsblood Royal, Main Street, and Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man.
Sinclair Lewis, 1930 Nobel Prize in Literature
Lewis was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters." Visit the official Nobel website for a brief author autobiography, Lewis's Nobel Lecture, and other resources.
This online lesson plan for Main Street provides a background to the novel, an overview of characters, chapter-by-chapter classroom activities, discussion questions, vocabulary lists, notes on historical references and allusions, and an extended bibliography of suggested fiction and critical reading. A useful resource for teachers.
The New York Review of Books
Gore Vidal talks about Babbitt and Main Street, a recent unflattering biography by Mark Schorer, and the fading light of a Nobel-winning author.

"'I expect to be the most talked-of writer,' Lewis boasted before he was. But the great ironist in the sky had other plans for him. In the end, Lewis was not to be talked of at all, but his characters—as types—would soldier on; in fact, more of his inventions have gone into the language than those of any other writer since Dickens. People still say, in quotes as it were, 'It can't happen here,' meaning fascism, which probably will; hence, the ironic or minatory spin the phrase now gets. In the half century since Sinclair Lewis (one wants to put quotes about his name, too) what writer has come up with a character or phrase like Babbitt or Elmer Gantry that stands for an easily recognized type?"
The Sinclair Lewis Society
Offers plot summaries and explanations of themes in Lewis's major works, including Arrowsmith, Babbitt, Dodsworth, Elmer Gantry. On It Can't Happen Here: "The warning is plain. Unless citizens stay educated and involved, fascism can indeed happen here."
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February 19, 2018
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