Stories of Sinclair Lewis
From the Sauk Centre Herald
1) Lewis and Bryant Library
2) Cast gets into Sinclair Lewis' skin
3) Bookseller remembers afternoon with Lewis
4) Is Lewis relavent?
5) Carol Kennicott returns to Main Street
6) Lewis scholars celebrate 75th anniversary of Babbitt
7) Enlightened on Lewis
8) The German side of Sinclair Lewis
9) The athletic side of Sinclair Lewis
Lewis and Bryant Library
by Dave Simpkins
It is appropriate for the Bryant
Library to be celebrating the centennial of its Carnegie building
during Sinclair Lewis Days.
Lewis was a born bookworm growing up in a family of readers
who supported the library.
Lewis' father, Dr. Edwin Lewis, came to town with two wagons,
one filled with household items and medical supplies and the
other filled with books.
Lewis' step-mother, Isabel Lewis, belonged to the Gradatim Club
hosting many book readings in the living room of their home.
The tall, thin Lewis spent much of his time with his nose in
a book. It was his job to split firewood. He created a method
of propping a book in the crotch of a tree. He would read a few
paragraphs, chop a few logs, read and chop, read and chop.
It is said he read all the books in the library collection before
graduating from high school in 1904.
When Lewis and his wife Gracie returned to Sauk Centre for the
summer of 1916 the Sauk Centre Herald reported, "Lewis had
gained recognition as one of the most compelling young fiction
writers in the country," who wrote, "gems of short
stories" whose latest novel, "The Trail of the Hawk"
was "among the year's best sellers"
After a talk at the Commercial Club the Herald reported Lewis
was a "rapid fire talker"
Lewis became famous for his short stories in the Saturday Evening
Post along side the drawings of Norman Rockwell.
Lewis gave a benefit lecture to raise money for the library
giving a talk on "the real inside of how the modern literature
of today is made." Donations totaled 25 cents.
Lewis had worked in the publishing business before he was an
author becoming friends and business partner with the up and
coming Alfred Harcourt who would found Harcourt, Brace and Howe.
Lewis and Harcourt brought many innovative ideas into the publishing
of Main Street in 1920 making it the largest selling book up
to that time.
Main Street took a satirical view of small town America and
many of the characters look all too much like people from Sauk
Centre. Some people protested it being on the shelves of the
Bryant Library. Those protests died down when Lewis became the
first American writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature in
In the 1930's, Lewis sent about 80 books to the library including
his best sellers, books sent to him to be reviewed and books
he felt Sauk Centre would enjoy reading. Many of these books
were autographed by the authors.
Lewis wrote the books were a payment for the debt he owed the
library for providing him with so much entertainment and knowledge
while he was growing up.
Inscribed on the jacket of a copy Main Street was, "To
the Bryant Library, Sauk Centre, with love and with lovely memory
of the days when its books were my greatest adventure,"
Sinclair Lewis, New York, Nov. 6 1937. An article in the Minneapolis
Journal hinted this was in atonement for the ruckus the book
Lewis would find even more adventures in today's Bryant Library.
Now part of the Great River Regional Library System, the library
has a limitless collection of books, tapes and videos as well
as the internet to explore.