Biography of Famous Alcoholic and Writer Sinclair Lewis

About the famous American writer and alcoholic Sinclair Lewis about his struggle with the disease.

SINCLAIR LEWIS (1885-1951). American novelist and playwright; 1st American Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1930.

Born in Minnesota and educated at Yale, Lewis was firmly established as a major novelist by the publication of Main Street in 1920. Later novels brought him wealth and fame as the literary diagnostician of American values.

Lewis was a heavy drinker throughout his adult life. He preferred brandy, often consuming over a quart a day. Mark Schorer describes his pattern of ". . . complete immolation and isolation in the writing of a book, and then gregarious bouts that finally blacked out everything." James Thurber observed that with Lewis: "You couldn't always tell at 7 in the morning whether he was having his 1st drink of the day or his last one of the night." His 2nd wife, writer-lecturer Dorothy Thompson, made repeated appeals to him to do something about what she called his "pathological drinking." His drinking bouts often ended in delirium tremens and hospitalization.

During a visit to Europe in 1950, Lewis suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered; he died in Rome, at 66. He remembered his last mistress, 29-year-old Marcella Powers, in his will.

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