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Theodore Dreiser. Brief Biography

  • Date Submitted: 11/02/2015 01:26 PM
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Theodore Dreiser was born on August 27, 1871 in Terre Haute, State Indiana. He was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. His novels explore the new social problems that had arisen in a rapidly industrializing America.
Theodore was the twelfth of thirteen children (the ninth of the ten surviving) in a family whose constant poverty forced frequent moves in search of a lower cost of living. His father, a German immigrant, was a mostly unemployed highly religious millworker. His mother was a gentle and compassionate representative of the Czech Mennonite community.
In later life Dreiser would bitterly associate religion with his father’s ineffectuality and the resulting material deprivation of the family, but he always spoke and wrote of his mother with great affection. Dreiser’s own harsh experience of poverty and his early yearnings for wealth and success would become dominant themes in his novels, and the misadventures of his brothers and sisters in early adult life gave him additional material on which to base his characters.
Dreiser’s spotty education in church and public schools was capped by a year (1889–90) at Indiana University. At the age of fifteen Dreiser moved to Chicago, where he changed a lot of hard and underpaid jobs on his way to success. There, in Chicago, he began a career as a newspaper reporter.
While writing for a Pittsburgh newspaper in 1894, he read lots of scientific works on philosophy. Through these and his own experience, Dreiser came to believe that human beings are almost completely helpless and social forces are beyond their control; moreover he judged human society for being an unfair contest between the strong and the weak.
In 1894 Dreiser arrived in New York City, where he worked for several newspapers and contributed to magazines. He married Sara White in 1898, but his multiple affections doomed their relationship. The couple separated in 1912.
Dreiser began writing his first novel, “Sister Carrie”, in...


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