Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy birthday, Charles, Sinclair and Laura

Charles Dickens, Sinclair Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder
You could call it the trifecta of literary birthdays. Today is the birthday of Charles Dickens, Sinclair Lewis and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Dickens was born in 1812. His novels of social commentary and fascinating characters were among the most popular in Victorian England. Not long ago we featured a rare first edition of his 1836 novel, The Pickwick Papers.

He popularized serialization, chapters of his books being published in magazines. He wrote new chapters even as the previous ones were being published. His books have never been out of print. He inspired G.K. Chesterton and Leo Tolstoy.

Sinclair Lewis was born in 1885. Lewis’ social commentary focused on middle America and the ills of capitalism. He was known for strong characters as well, especially women. He was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He also was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, which he refused to accept.

His novel Main Street, about small-town life, was a best seller. His 1922 satire on American culture, Babbitt, also was set in a small town, the fictional Zenith in the fictional state of Winnemac. It was also the setting for four other books, including Elmer Gantry and Arrowsmith, both of which were filmed as movies.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867. Her book Little House in the Big Woods was based on her childhood in an American pioneer family. Her family’s experience homesteading in Kansas was depicted in her novel Little House on the Prairie, the basis of the popular television series.
Her books have never been out of print.

Happy birthday to three great contributors to the world of literature.

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