Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog


BOOTH TARKINGTON


BOOTH TARKINGTON

Booth Tarkington

Author Booth Tarkington was born Newton Booth Tarkington on July 29, 1869 and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. Tarkington attended the prestigious Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. After high school, Tarkington returned to Indiana for his first two years of college at Purdue University, and later transferred to Princeton University. While at Princeton, Tarkington was a member of the Triangle Club and did his first acting there. He never earned his degree, but was given an honorary one from Purdue in 1918. He spent most of his time writing and his debut book, The Gentleman of Indiana (1899), was a success. Tarkington continued writing, and as more of his works were published, his profile as an author grew, culminating in Pulitzer Prizes for his novels, The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams. Alice Adams was turned into a feature film in 1935 starring Katherine Hepburn, and in 1942, the film adaption of The Magnificent Ambersons, directed by Orson Welles, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. He was also an accomplished playwright, with over 25 works produced on Broadway between 1901 and 1931.

Most of Tarkington’s major work, such as Beasley’s Christmas Party (originally published in 1909), was set in Middle America, where he grew up. A major theme in Tarkington’s writing was the rise of industrialization and its effects on the Midwest, and his writing reflected his loyalty to small-town America. Tarkington was also involved in politics, and, in 1902, he spent a single term in the Indiana Legislature. Around this time, he married his first wife, Laurel Fletcher, but the couple divorced seven years later. Tarkington remarried in 1912 to Susanah Kiefer Robinson. The couple never had children, but Tarkington was especially fond of his nephews, who inspired him to write the Penrod series. As he aged, Tarkington developed vision problems. He was able to still publish his work but only with the help of his secretary, who would record his stories through dictation. Fortunately, through this method, he managed to write a great deal during the last years of his life until he passed away in 1946 at age seventy-six.

Most of Booth Tarkington’s early works, including the short novel Beasley’s Christmas Party, his wonderful books about the adventures of youth Penrod, Penrod and Sam, and Penrod Jashbar, and his Pulitzer Prize- winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons (1919) and Alice Adams (1921) are available for free on the internet!

Here’s how to get them:
Go to: www.gutenberg.org
Type: TARKINGTON into Author Search

Then, you’ll be able to download literally dozens of his works. Better yet, if you have a Kindle, you can download them directly into your Kindle for free!

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