Theodore Dreiser Biography

Theodore Dreiser Biography

Theodore Dreiser was praised as “the greatest living realist” of the early twentieth century. Dreiser’s novels often reflect the tension between parents who immigrate to the New World and the children they raise under its shifting cultural and moral values. And although his works stand on their own artistic merit, Dreiser is probably almost as famous for the literary censorship that plagued him as much as for his writing itself. For example, Sister Carrie (probably his best-known work, and based heavily on his own sister’s affair with a married man) almost did not get published at all because of its perceived immorality. After much wrangling, the novel went on to achieve great critical success, and Dreiser himself had a long career, writing a total of twenty-seven works before he died in 1945.

Facts and Trivia

  • Dreiser was the ninth of ten surviving children. He grew up impoverished and did not graduate from high school.
  • A strict Catholic school upbringing turned the author off of Catholicism in general. His struggle with public schools and faith is a frequent theme of his work.
  • Dreiser was a committed socialist and visited the Soviet Union.
  • His brother, Paul Dresser (who was born Johann Paul Dreiser) was a famous singer, songwriter and comedic actor.
  • He suffered writer’s block for a period of three years but overcame it to write prolifically in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Dreiser worked as the managing editor of a women’s magazine called Ev’ry Month. While at the magazine, he wrote book and art reviews, considered social problems, and posed philosophical questions.
  • Dreiser was interested in returning from his first European vacation on the Titanic but was talked out of it in favor of a cheaper voyage.
  • Dreiser was a good friend and supporter of birth control advocate Margaret Sanger.
Additional Content
  • Biography (History of the World: The 20th Century)
  • Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)
  • Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)
  • Biography (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)
  • Biography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)
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  • Biography
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(The entire section is 7805 words.)