Theodore Dreiser Theodore Dreiser was born August 27, 1871 in Terre Haute, Indiana. The younger brother of Paul Dresser, a well-known songwriter, Theodore was a famous novelist known for his outstanding American writing of naturalism. He was also a leading figure in a national literary movement that replaced the observance of Victorian notions of propriety with the unflinching presentation of real-life subject matter. Even though a majority of his works were about his life experiences, he also wrote about new social problems that had risen in American at the time as well as things sexual in nature. Dreiser was born the ninth of ten surviving children in a family that was stricken with life-long poverty. His father was a German immigrant that was mostly an unemployed mill worker with a strict attitude because of his narrow Roman Catholic belief. His mother had a Czech Mennonite background and she was a fair lady that was always compassionate to her son. Because of the family’s severe degree of poverty, they moved frequently between small Indiana towns and Chicago in search of a better cost of living. Dreiser did not have much of an education in his lifetime. He attended parochial and public schools including a year at Indiana University in 1889-1890 throughout his academic years. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in Chicago in 1892 before working his way to the East Coast. While living on the East Coast in 1894, Dreiser found a job working for a Pittsburgh newspaper. In the same year, he move to New York City and started working for several newspapers and magazines. Dreiser would soon meet a woman named Sara White and they would get married in 1898. The marriage did not last that long due to his roving affections and resulting infidelities causing their divorce in 1912. Dreiser began writing his first novel, Sister Carrie, in 1899 at the suggestion of a newspaper colleague. Doubleday, Page and Company published the novel the following year, thanks in part to the great enthusiasm of the firm’s novelist, Frank Norris. The story line of the novel was about a young kept woman whose "immortality" goes unpunished. The publisher was not fond of the story line and decided to limit the book’s advertising. Because of the limited advertising, the book sold only 465 copies and Dreiser made less than $100 dollars on the deal. In 1890, the dis...
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...erty level. He always spoke and wrote of his mother being affectionate and caring at all times. Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute and lived in Indiana until the age of eighteen. He was born into a family that was stricken with poverty and he had little hope of making it big in the real world. Dreiser did not have much of an education nor any experience in writing. Through hard work and dedication, he ended getting a job in Chicago for a newspaper and then moving to New York a few years later. In New York, Dreiser also got many jobs for magazines and newspapers. While living in the city, he wrote a majority of his famous works. Dreiser’s most famous works were Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy. In 1938, he moved to Los Angeles with his mistress, Helen Richardson. Dreiser continued on writing literary works until his death in 1945. Theodore Dreiser was a well-known novelist and a great man as well as a historic member of the Terre Haute area.
Bibliography Gerber, Phillip. Theodore Dreiser, Chicago, Woodford Publishing., 1986, pp. 34-75 Warren, Robert Penn. Homage to Theodore Dreiser: His World and His Novels, New York, Coleman Publishing., 1975, pp. 82-140
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