“The Golden Age: Indiana Literature” exhibit is coming to LaPorte museum

The LaPorte County Historical Society Museum will be hosting “The Golden Age: Indiana Literature (1880-1920)” from Sept. 4 through Sept. 28, 2019. This is a traveling exhibit on loan from the Indiana Historical Society, which maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest.

Please visit the museum, 2405 Indiana Ave., for this look at the fascinating history of these Hoosier authors, their literary contributions, and their impact on the social conventions of the time.

The exhibition, drawn from collections at the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana State Library and Indiana University’s Lilly Library, explores what came to be known as the “Golden Age of Indiana Literature.” This period corresponded to growth in other cultural areas including the creation of the Hoosier Group of landscape painters, and prominence of Indiana music composers such as Paul Dresser.

From 1880 to 1920, Hoosier authors achieved both national prominence and popular acclaim. A 1947 study found that Indiana authors ranked second to New York in the number of bestsellers produced in the previous 40 years. The exhibition examines some of the many writers who contributed to the state’s literary golden age, but concentrates on the lives and careers of four individuals who loomed large during this period – George Ade, Meredith Nicholson, Booth Tarkington and James Whitcomb Riley.

Other popular Indiana authors during this period were Lew Wallace (“Ben Hur”), Maurice Thompson (“Alice of Old Vincennes”), Theodore Dreiser (“Sister Carrie”), Edward Eggleston (“The Hoosier Schoolmaster”), Frank McKinney Hubbard (cartoon Abe Martin), George Barr McCutcheon (“Brewster’s Millions”), and Gene Stratton-Porter (“A Girl of the Limberlost”).

George Ade, writer, columnist and playwright, was born in Kentland, Indiana. He is best known for his fables and descriptions of urban life in his column, “Stories of the Streets and of the Town.” Ade’s fables earned him the nickname of the “Aesop of Indiana.” Several of Ade’s plays, including “The County Chairman” (1903) and “The College Widow” (1904), were produced for Broadway, and also adapted into motion pictures. 

Meredith Nicholson, Crawfordsville, was a writer, columnist and poet. Three of his books were best sellers including “The House of a Thousand Candles” (#4 in 1906), “The Port of Missing Men” (#3 in 1907), and “A Hoosier Chronicle” (#5 in 1912).

Booth Tarkington, Indianapolis, was best known for his novels “The Magnificent Ambersons” and “Alice Adams.” He is one of only three novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, along with William Faulkner and John Updike. In the 1910s and 1920s, he was considered America’s greatest living author. Several of his stories were adapted to film including “The Magnificent Ambersons.”

James Whitcomb Riley, Greenfield, became the most prominent poet of the age and became known as “America’s best-loved poet.”

For more information, contact the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum at 219-324-6767 or info@laportecountyhistory.org. The museum is handicapped accessible.

One Response to ““The Golden Age: Indiana Literature” exhibit is coming to LaPorte museum”

  1. SuzQuz

    Aug 21. 2019

    Good showing, but how about Ernie Pyle and James Whitcomb Riley,?

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