Monday, August 13, 2007

Press Publishes Nicholson Biography

From 1880 to 1920, Indiana experienced a golden age of literature, with Hoosier authors achieving both national prominence and national acclaim. These writers provided readers with stories that emphasized traditional values and offered shelter from an ever-changing world.

Although those who lived in the state took an immense pride in what Indiana writers produced, they heaped special attention on four men, including the great Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley; Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Booth Tarkington; and noted newspaper columnist and humorist George Ade. The other member of this special group—Meredith Nicholson—also won enormous success with his novels. As Ralph D. Gray notes in this first-ever biography of the author and diplomat, Meredith Nicholson: A Writing Life, the fifth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s Indiana Biography Series, Nicholson stands as the most Hoosier of all Indiana writers, serving as an outspoken advocate for his state. Indiana literary historian Arthur S. Shumaker called Nicholson the “most rabid” of Indiana’s major authors.

In addition to writing such national best sellers as Zelda Dameron and The House of a Thousand Candles, his best-known work, Nicholson won praise as an insightful essayist, with his work published in such national magazines as the Saturday Evening Post and Atlantic Monthly. “Nicholson’s enduring faith in ‘folks,’ the ordinary people of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and the Midwest, his inherent belief in democracy and democratic values, and his unapologetic patriotism permeate his essays,” notes Gray, “some of which excoriated the Ku Klux Klan and upheld the rights and virtues of women, attitudes not always popular at the time.”

A longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, Nicholson’s loyalty to his party was rewarded in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to be America’s top diplomat in war-torn Paraguay. Nicholson gave able service to the United States and went on to serve in two other Latin American countries before retiring from public life in 1941.

The book costs $19.95 and is available from the Society's Basile History Market. To order, call (800) 447-1830 or order online at the History Market.

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