Sinclair Lewis

Facts

Sinclair Lewis

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Sinclair Lewis
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1930

Born: 7 February 1885, Sauk Centre, MN, USA

Died: 10 January 1951, Rome, Italy

Residence at the time of the award: USA

Prize motivation: "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters."

Language: English

Prize share: 1/1

Life

Sinclair Lewis grew up with two siblings, his father and his stepmother. His mother died when he was six years old. While still a child, he read a lot and kept journals. He received a bachelor’s degree at Yale University, and Yale Literary Magazine published his first short stories and poems. He was married twice and had a son in both marriages. The novel Main Street (1920) became a commercial success but did not win a Pulitzer Prize, which so disappointed Lewis that he declined the Pulitzer Prize when it was awarded to his novel Arrowsmith in 1925.

Work

Sinclair Lewis wrote 24 novels, more than 70 short stories and several plays and poetry collections. Today he is mainly remembered for the satirical novels Main Street (1920) and It Can’t Happen Here (1936). Main Street accurately and humorously describes life in a small American town in the 1910s, while It Can’t Happen Here is set in a future United States where demagogic Berzelius Buzz Windrip has become president of the U.S. by spreading fear and promising a return to patriotism and traditional American values.

To cite this section
MLA style: Sinclair Lewis – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Sat. 24 Jul 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1930/lewis/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.