Sinclair Lewis Exhibit Opening at Minnesota History Center
ST. PAUL -- A new exhibit celebrating the life of Sauk Centre native Sinclair Lewis opens this weekend. "Sinclair Lewis 100 Years of Main Street" opens Saturday at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
Lewis was born in Sauk Centre in 1885 and stayed there until he graduated from high school. Lead Exhibit Developer Patrick Coleman says after leaving to go to Yale for college he came back to the state often throughout his life.
He actually lived all over Minnesota. He lived in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. He lived in Mankato. He lived kind of famously in Duluth and wrote quite a bit of fictional Duluth into his work. And, not only that, but he came back often for vacations.
Coleman says it was the book Main Street that really launched his career.
This was a book that he thought would sell 10,000 copies. His publisher thought maybe double that. Within a couple of years over two million copies had been sold. For its time, a publishing phenomenon.
Coleman says Lewis went on to write a string of very popular novels in the 1920s and 1930s including Babbitt and Elmer Gantry. In all, he wrote 23 novels, a couple of plays, and many short stories. Eleven of his novels were made into movies including Elmer Gentry which won three Academy Awards.
In 1930 Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize medal is part of the exhibit on loan from the Yale University library.