Biography of Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis was the first American to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. He is best known for his works Main Street and Babbitt. He earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for both of these works and later declined to accept a Pulitzer for Arrowsmith. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He was born Harry Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and although he was proud of his Midwestern hometown, he traveled a great deal in order to expose himself to many aspects of American life. After graduating from Yale University in 1908, he began his career as a writer of romantic stories and poetry. As he traveled, though, he sought to address issues concerning the powerless individuals in society, including women and minority groups. In his book entitled Sinclair Lewis, Sheldon Norman Grebstein asserts that Lewis "was the conscience of his generation and he could well serve as the conscience of our own." He is best remembered for his satiric criticism of American society and values.

He married twice (once to Grace Hegger and once to Dorothy Thompson) and divorced twice. He died in Rome, Italy, of heart disease and is now buried in his birth town of Sauk Centre.


Study Guides on Works by Sinclair Lewis

First published in 1922, Babbitt is set during the 1920s (the Jazz Age), the period in America following World War I that is considered especially materialistic and spiritually depraved. Politically, the country was charged with fear due to the...

Main Street is a novel by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1920.

The satirical novel criticizes the small-town lifestyle, classing it amongst Lewis' contemporaries as somewhat bleak in nature.The reception amongst real-life small-town residents was...