American writer Harry Sinclair Lewis wrote novels, short stories, and plays. He was also known as a social critic and wrote satirical novels. In 1930 Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first awarded to an American. He wrote more than twenty novels, several plays, and numerous short stories.
Lewis was born in 1885 in a prairie village in Minnesota called Sauk Centre. His father was a country doctor, and his mother was the daughter of a Canadian doctor. When Lewis was only six years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. His father remarried Isabel Warner the following year. When Lewis was young, he was teased because he had bad skin, red hair, and was odd looking. He began reading at a young age and also kept a diary. He wrote stories about knights and fair ladies and created romantic poetry.
In 1902 Lewis left home to attend Oberlin Academy, a preparatory department of Oberlin College. He worked to qualify for acceptance to Yale University. The following year he entered Yale University and served as editor of Yale Literary Magazine. In 1906 when he became dissatisfied with college, he left Yale and traveled to Panama to find a job on the canal. During that year he worked temporary jobs. Lewis returned to Yale in 1907 and graduated in 1908.
Upon graduation from college, Lewis began traveling in the United States where he worked for various publishing houses and magazines in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Iowa, and New York writing short stories and poetry. Lewis also became involved with radicals and for a short time was a member of the Socialist Party. In 1912 Lewis published his first book, Hike and Aeroplane, under the pseudonym Tom Graham. Two years later he married Grace Hegger, an editor at Vogue. That same year he wrote Our Mr. Wrenn, a novel about an innocent and naive man who dreams of adventures. Between 1915 and 1919 Lewis published four more novels: The Trail of the Hawk (1916), The Job (1917), The Innocents (1917), and Free Air (1919). Lewis's son Wells, named after the British author H.G. Wells, was born in 1917.