Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Magnificent Ambersons,” celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Originally published in 1918, the novel traces the dramatic rise and fall of a prominent American family and is set in a fictionalized version of Tarkington’s hometown of Indianapolis. Dubbed one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library, the book has been in print since its debut and has gone through numerous editions by a wide variety of publishers.
The Indiana State Library owns many copies of this important literary work including several first editions. One first edition was donated by Indianapolis artist Blanche Stillson and features the following inscription from Tarkington:
In 1939 Tarkington was living on North Meridian in the residential district which now bears his name, the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood. In his novel, the Amberson Mansion was located in a district called the Amberson Addition, a fictional neighborhood modeled after Woodruff Place.
The novel has inspired three films. The earliest was a 1925 silent film called “Pampered Youth.” The more famous version directed by Orson Welles was released in 1942 and garnered numerous Oscar nominations. A made-for-television miniseries appeared in 2002.
Tarkington was one of the most prolific American writers of the early 20th century and the Indiana State Library houses numerous editions of all of his works. To search our holdings, please visit our catalog.
This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”