For immediate release
Race, Religion, Politics and a Pandemic: Stories of Minnesota Author Sinclair Lewis Ring True 100 Years Later
New Exhibit ‘Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street’ Opens April 10, 2021, at Minnesota History Center
Sinclair Lewis took on many issues of his day employing his trademark style of realism, satire and wit. On the centennial of Lewis’s seminal novel “Main Street”, discover the legacy of this author from Minnesota, whose literary works and social critiques of American life ring true today. “Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street” opens April 10, 2021, at the Minnesota History Center.
Explore how Lewis’s satire “It Can’t Happen Here” foreshadowed our modern political scene with an antihero who galvanized voters using fiery rhetoric. His novel “Arrowsmith” is about a doctor working during a pandemic, “Kingsblood Royal” tackles race relations, and “Main Street” is both a critique of small town life and a celebration of feminism.
Lewis is arguably the most famous person to come out of Minnesota. His novels and short stories sold millions, many were made into Hollywood films, and he was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930. The exhibit presents Lewis’s life in Minnesota and how he shaped—and was shaped by—the state he loved.
“Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street” features more than 300 items from the MNHS collections, the Sinclair Lewis Foundation, and other lenders.
Visitors are encouraged to explore more about Lewis and his contemporaries through the extensive resources available at the Gale Family Library. For more information about the exhibit visit www.mnhs.org/sinclairlewis.
Exhibit and Program Support
“Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street” is made possible is part by the Legacy Amendment through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.
Location and Hours
The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.
Admission to “Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street” is included with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $6 ages 5 to 17; free age 4 and under and MNHS members. For ticket information visit www.mnhs.org/sinclairlewis.
About the Minnesota History Center
The Minnesota History Center houses the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and is home to the History Center museum with innovative exhibits, Gale Family Library, café and museum store. The History Center is located at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul. For more information, visit www.minnesotahistorycenter.org.
About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.
This photo is inscribed by Lewis “amiably” to Chicago Sun literary critic C. N. Thomas, and dated Chicago, October 10, 1922.
Emil Otto Hoppe, 1922Download high-res image (24.18 MB)
1920 first edition of "Main Street"Download high-res image (78.8 KB)
Many of Lewis’s works were translated for foreign readers including this 1948 Danish language version of "Kingsblood Royal."
Courtesy University of Minnesota LibrariesDownload high-res image (3.38 MB)
On Nov. 5, 1930, Lewis became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery; Transfer from the Yale University Library, Numismatic Collection, 2001, Gift of Sinclair LewisDownload high-res image (1.34 MB)
This working manuscript with handwritten comments by Lewis is from the first draft of "Main Street," 1920.
Courtesy Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at AustinDownload high-res image (1.79 MB)
In this letter dated June 23, 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald tells his friend Thomas Boyd (another Minnesota novelist) that “Lewis’ prosperity makes me boil with envy.”
MNHS collections, gift of Robert WeyerhaeuserDownload high-res image (1.92 MB)
Page two of the F. Scott Fitzgerald letter to Thomas Boyd.
MNHS collections, gift of Robert WeyerhaeuserDownload high-res image (1.31 MB)