Booth Tarkington Essay

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Exploring the realms of middle-class, middle-America, romantic illusions and the power and corruption of wealth, Tarkington became a leading voice of his times through his memorable characters and social commentary in his novels and plays. Praised by the father of American realism William Dean Howells, Tarkington's Growth Trilogy, based on America's Industrial Expansionism started with The Turmoil (1915), then The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by The Midlander (1924). Dozens of his works were adapted to the stage and screen during his lifetime and as recently as 2002. Newton Booth Tarkington was born 29 July 1869 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Elizabeth and John Stevenson Tarkington, a lawyer and judge. He first attended Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, then Princeton in New Jersey where he was editor of the Nassau Literary Magazine. Ever the raconteur, he was immensely popular at school, and later earned an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1918. After having started writing at a very early age short stories and plays, he always knew he wanted to be a writer and upon finishing school put pen to paper in earnest. Not disheartened by numerous rejections, Tarkington's persistence would soon pay off. His first novel The Gentleman from Indiana was published in 1899, followed by his historical romance Monsieur Beaucaire in 1900, which would later be adapted to the screen starring Rudolph Valentino. In 1902 he married Laurel Fletcher, but they divorced in 1911. The next year he married Susanah Kiefer Robinson, and though they would have no children, Tarkington was the ever doting uncle to his nephews. Their antics combined with his own fond boyhood memories, and his sharp wit and imagination resulted in his Penrod series; quintessential all-American boy tales. In a similar vein to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, Penrod (1914), Penrod and Sam (1916) and Penrod

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