But seriously, who is Booth Tarkington?

This literary journey began with musings on the identity of one Booth Tarkington. But though our first blog post was entitled ‘Who the hell is Booth Tarkinton?’, we never actually revealed anything about the man. So, without further ado, here are some random facts:

He is one of only three people to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. For Alice Adams (1922) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1919). We mentioned this before, but it’s so delightfully trivial it bears remarking on again. The other two people were Faulkner and Updike (Hemingway would also have been twice blessed, but his win for For Whom the Bell Tolls was overturned).

He is the only person ever to have been awarded two honorary degrees from Princeton. Ironically, Tarkington actually attended Princeton in his youth but did not formally graduate. He was still voted the most popular student in his class.

He appeared on the cover of time in 1925. And the sketch of his face looks mighty dapper.


He’s a Hoosier. Thus most of his novels deal with being Midwestern.

He was “the only Princeton man who had ever been known to play poker (with his left hand), write a story for the Nassau Lit (with his right hand), and lead the singing in a crowded room, performing these three acts simultaneously,” according to a quote from Princeton’s official site. Sounds awfully jolly. He was also well known for his recitation of Kipling’s ‘The Hanging of Danny Deever.’ Apparently.

He went blind towards the end of his life. But that didn’t stop him from continuing his literary oeuvre via dictation.


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