Born the son of an Indianapolis judge on July 29, 1869, novelist and playwright Booth Tarkington achieved a vast following by portraying Midwestern life from the perspective of the emerging American middle class.
Although he attended Purdue and Princeton universities, the Indianapolis native was an undisciplined student and never received his degree. Returning to Indianapolis during the Golden Age of Indiana literature, music, fine art and political influence, "Tark" gained certain notoriety for frequenting the popular, if notorious bar at Indianapolis' Denison Hotel with other Hoosier luminaries, such as poet James Whitcomb Riley and socialist labor leader Eugene Debs.
Early rejection of his work gave way to a popularity that Tarkington parlayed into a seat in the Indiana Legislature in 1902. His greatest literary successes. The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, which one the 1918 and 1921 Pulitzer Prizes respectively, dealt with the immense social changes that urbanization and industrialization brought to the Midwest — issues that resonate to this day. He died May 19, 1946.