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Study Guide

Theodore Dreiser Biography | Author of An American Tragedy

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Author Biography

Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, on August 27, 1871. He was the twelfth of thirteen children of John, a German immigrant, and Sarah Dreiser. The family was poor, quarrelsome, and prone to scandal. John suffered permanent injury in an accident, which made it difficult for him to provide for his family. The children, however, were never told about his health problems and thought their father was simply a failure. In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Philip L. Gerber writes that Dreiser's niece, Vera Dreiser, described the household in which her uncle grew up as being characterized by "superstition, fanaticism, ignorance, poverty, constant humiliation." In addition, the family was constantly on the move, and Dreiser's formal education was spotty. The echoes of this chaos and humiliation are clearly heard in Dreiser's fiction.

Dreiser left home and moved to Chicago when he was fifteen. He filled in the gaps in...

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This section contains 491 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our An American Tragedy Study Guide
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An American Tragedy from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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