Theodore Dreiser



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 familyís 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 firmís novelist, Frank Norris. The story line of the novel was about a young kept woman whose ďimmortalityĒ goes unpunished. The publisher was not fond of the story line and decided to limit the bookís 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 disappointment of this book and an accumulation of family and marital troubles sent him into a deep stage of depression. His brother Paul came to the rescue and arranged for Theodoreís treatment in a sanitarium. By 1891, Dreiser had recovered from depression and found work as a editor in chief of several magazines. He was attaining notable financial success in his job for nine years until he was forced to resign in 1910 because of a his romantic fascination with an assistantís daughter. After gaining some hope and confidence in his writing, Dreiser returned to writing fiction. In 1911, he wrote a novel titled Jennie Gerhardt which was a story of a woman who submits sexually to rich and powerful men to help her poverty stricken family. The success of this book gave him some much needed encouragement and continued on writing more novels. He then wrote The Financier in 1912 and The Titan in 1914. These books were the first two novels of a trilogy dealing with the career of the late 19th century American financier and tycoon Charles T. Yerkes. Dreiser then wrote in 1913 about his experiences in Europe in a book titled A Traveler at Forty. In his next major novel, The Genius was written in 1915 and it dealt with transforming his own life and his numerous love affairs into a sprawling semi-autobiographical chronicle. From 1915 to ten years down the road, Dreiser wrote a great amount of literary works. He wrote such books as A Hoosier Holiday in 1916 and A Book About Myself in 1922 as well as some plays, essays, and short-story collections. In 1925, Dreiser wrote his first novel in more than a decade. The book was titled An American Tragedy and it was based on a celebrated murder case. The book was an instant success and it brought him a lot of fame and