Sinclair Lewis was born in Sauk Centre,Minnesota, on 7th February 1885. He was the son of Dr. Edwin J. Lewis and Emma Kermott Lewis. Sadly, Sinclair’s mother Emma died when he was only six. In 1892 his father married Isabel Warner. Although he got along with his step mom, he ran away from home and hoped to become a drummer boy in the Spanish-American War when he was thirteen.
In 1902 Lewis went to Oberlin Academy. While there, he developed a religious enthusiasm that fluctuated during the majority of his teen years. In 1903 he attended Yale and worked towards his bachelor’s degree. Prior to receiving it, however, he took some time off to work at the socialist commune, Helicon Home Colony, and to travel to Panama. Because Lewis was ugly and seemed self-absorbed to a lot of people, for the most part he had a hard time making friends at both Oberlin and Yale. There were a few exceptions, however. He was able to maintain a handful of relationships with some professors and students who saw promise in his writing.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1908, Lewis wrote for newspapers and publishing houses in hopes of becoming a full-time writer. That same year he moved to New York City where he became a freelance writer. In 1912, Lewis published his first novel, Hike and the Aeroplane. In 1914, he married Grace Livingston Hegger, and also published Our Mr Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man. Subsequently, he published The Trail of the Hawk in 1915. Two years later, he and Grace had their only child, Wells. In 1920, Lewis published the novel Main Street, his first popular work. This book earned him a reputation as a great novelist. Main Street sold 180,000 copies in the first six months, and within a few years its sales were estimated at two million.
Lewis’s most renowned work, Babbitt, was published in 1922. A satire of American culture, society, and behavior, it critiques the vapidity of middle-class American life and its pressure toward conformity.
In 1925 he published his next novel, Arrowsmith. This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1926, but Lewis refused to accept it. Also in 1925, he divorced his wife Grace
His next book, Elmer Gantry, was published in 1927, followed by Dodsworth,in 1929. Both books were well-received and in 1930 Lewis became the first American novelist to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Between the release of these two books, Lewis married dorothy thompson in 1928, and had a son named Michael in 1930.
Although he was no longer an active socialist, Lewis continued to write books that called attention to political and social change. These included Ann Vickers in 1933, a book about the women’s movement and prison reform, and It Can’t Happen Here in 1935, a warning about the dangers of fascism.
In 1942 he and dorothy got divorced. After World War II, his novels included Cass Timberlane in 1945, Kingsblood Royal in1947, and God-Seeker in 1949.
Sinclair Lewis was an alcoholic and after a heart attack his doctors told him to stop drinking if he wanted to live. Lewis was unable to do this and died of paralysis of the heart in Rome on 10th January 1951.