Chicago is rich with history and tradition, but most of all, Chicago is a city that is truly defined by the people that live in it. The people of Chicago range from the rich upper-class, to the overwhelmed women coming to the "big city" for the first time, to the proud, strong, hard-working blue collar individuals. And these are precisely the people with which Chicago literature throughout the twentieth century was most fascinated with. Authors like Theodore Dreiser, Richard Wright, and James T. Farrell were some of the very early Chicago authors to write important works of literature regarding these "stereotypical" types of Chicago inhabitants in the early 1900s. Other, more contemporary authors like Stuart Dybek prove that there are still a wealth of stories that can be told about Chicago today.
The twentieth century literature of Chicago has books like Sister Carrie, which dealt with the struggles of a poor woman entering the large city of Chicago for the first time, and being overwhelmed with the thought of making a living for herself, while also getting involved with everything the city has to offer. Also books like Studs Lonigan which details the life of young William "Studs" Lonigan, a lower-middle class Irish-Catholic boy, as he fights through life on a downward spiral against the negative forces of life. Then there's Native Son, a visionary book about a twenty-year-old Bigger Thompson, a lower class black man living in Chicago in the 1930s, who accidentally kills a rich white family's only daughter.
These, and more, are the kinds of stories told through the eyes of these influential Chicago authors. This site will analyze the lives of some of the most important Chicago authors in the twentieth century, Theodore Dreiser (Sister Carrie), Stuart Dybek (Coast of Chicago), James T. Farrell (Studs Lonigan), and Richard Wright (Native Son), and take a look at each author's life, motivation, and the important contributions that their books had on society.
Feel free to start exploring the history of these authors now, by clicking on their names in the top menu or right sidebar, and begin to understand each author's contributions to the immense history of Chicago.