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Harry Lewis Sinclair

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1930. First  writer from USA to be awarded the Prize.  Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Nobel Committee in its citation stated that the prize was given for "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters."

Born: 07/02/1885 in Sauk Center, Minnesota, US

Died: 10/01/1951  near Rome, Italy

Citizen: US

Language: English

   Lewis Sinclair's father was a physician and loved discipline. When the young boy was only 6 year old, his mother died and father remarried. Boyhood and early adolescent of Lewis was lonely. He was tall, extremely thin and did not make much friends partly because of his habit of creating self importance. At the age of 13, he ran away from home to become a drummer boy in Spanish American War.

   In 1903, he got admitted to Yale University but could not graduate till 1908 because of frequent interruption in study by travel and other activities. He had however started writing articles and poems and became the Editor of Yale Literary Magazine. His first published book was the Hike and the Aeroplane published in 1912 under the pseudonym Tom Graham. His first serious novel was Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventure of a Gentle Man published in 1914. This was followed by The Trial of the Hawk: A Comedy of the seriousness of Life (1915) and The Job(1917).

    Lewis married Grace Livingstone Heggar, Editor of Vogue in 1914. They had a son who was killed in Second World War. In 1925, he divorced his wife and married Dorothy Thompson.

        Sinclair's writing career advanced after Main Street was published in October,1920. The sale of  1,80,000 copies during first six months was spectacular in those days. It made Sinclair rich. Then followed Babbitt and Arrowsmith. Arrowsmith narrated the agony and hurdles faced by an idealistic doctor. This novel fetched him the Pulitzer Prize which he refused to accept.

    Sinclair continued to write vigorously even after getting the Nobel Prize but many critics feel that the quality and style of his writing declined. During 1937, he had a serious problem due to chronic alcoholism and had to be treated. However, he never got over this problem and died in Rome in 1951 due to heart failure aggravated by alcoholism.

Notable Works: Main Street(1920), Babbitt(1922), Arrowsmith(1925), Man Trap(1926), Elmer Gantry (1927) ,Dodsworth (1929),It Can't Happen Here(1935),The Prodigal Parents(1938),Class Timberlane(1945)The God Seeker(1949)

Lewis Sinclair

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