Literary Birthday - 7 February - Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis was born 7 February 1885, and died 10 January 1951


  1. If you want to be a writer, learn to type.
  2. The author says one character's definition of a classic is any book he'd heard of before he was thirty.
  3. Our American professors like their literature clear and cold and pure and very dead.
  4. If that woman is on the side of the angels, then I have no choice; I must be on the side of the devil.
  5. It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.
  6. When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
  7. When audiences come to see us authors lecture, it is largely in the hope that we’ll be funnier to look at than to read.
  8. There are dozens of young poets and fictioneers most of them a little insane in the tradition of James Joyce, who, however insane they may be, have refused to be genteel and traditional and dull.
  9. Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile. In protest, I declined election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters some years ago, and now I must decline the Pulitzer Prize.
  10. We have the power to bore people long after we are dead.

Lewis was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote novels about average Americans doing non-average things. He is best known for Main StreetArrowsmith, and Elmer Gantry.

Source for Image

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I’ll do everything for you

In 1930, after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, author Sinclair Lewis began to receive a steady stream of fan mail, from all corners.

One woman in particular wrote and offered to become his secretary, adding, “I’ll do everything for you—and when I say everything I mean everything.”

The following brief letter was sent to the young lady in response; not by Lewis, but by his wife, Dorothy.

My dear Miss:

My husband already has a stenographer who handles his work for him. And, as for “everything,” I take care of that myself—and when I say everything I mean everything.

Dorothy Thompson
(Mrs. Sinclair Lewis to you.)

(Source: Letters of a Nation; Image: Sinclair Lewis & Dorothy Thompson on their honeymoon in 1928, via.)

Find out more about Sinclair Lewis


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