The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington which won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize. It was the second novel in the Growth trilogy, which included The Turmoil (1915) and The Midlander (1923, retitled National Avenue in 1927). In 1942 Orson Welles directed a film version, also titled The Magnificent Ambersons. The novel and trilogy traces the growth of the United States...
The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington which won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize. It was the second novel in the Growth trilogy, which included The Turmoil (1915) and The Midlander (1923, retitled National Avenue in 1927). In 1942 Orson Welles directed a film version, also titled The Magnificent Ambersons.
The novel and trilogy traces the growth of the United States through the declining fortunes of three generations of the aristocratic Amberson family in a fictional Mid-Western town, between the end of the Civil War and the early part of the 20th century, a period of rapid industrialization and socio-economic change in America. The decline of the Ambersons is contrasted with the rising fortunes of industrial tycoons and other new-money families, which did not derive power from family names but by "doing things". As George Amberson's friend (name unspecified) says, "don't you think being things is 'rahthuh bettuh' than doing things?"
"The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington's best novel," said Van Wyck Brooks. "[It is] a typical story of an American family and town—the great family that locally ruled the roost and vanished virtually in a day as the town spread and darkened into a city. This novel no doubt was a permanent page in the social history of the United States, so admirably conceived and written was the tale of the Ambersons, their house, their fate and the growth of the community in which they were submerged in the end."
Even though the story is set in a fictitious city, it was inspired by Tarkington's hometown of Indianapolis and the neighborhood he once lived in, Woodruff Place.
Newton Booth Tarkington (July 29, 1869 – May 19, 1946) was an
American novelist and dramatist best known for his Pulitzer
Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.
Booth Tarkington was born in Indianapolis, the son of John S.
Tarkington and Elizabeth Booth Tarkington. He was named after his
maternal uncle Newton Booth, then the governor of California. He
first attended Purdue University but graduated from Princeton
University in 1893. While at Princeton he was editor of the Nassau
Literary Magazine and formed the Princeton Triangle Club. He was
also voted the most popular man in his class. When Tarkington's
class graduated in 1893 he lacked sufficient credits for a degree
at Princeton, where he attended classes for two years. His later
achievements, however, won him an honorary A.M. in 1899 and an
honorary Litt.D. in 1918. He was one of the most popular American
novelists of his time, with The Two Vanrevels and Mary's Neck
appearing on the annual best-seller lists nine times. Tarkington's
best known work today is The Magnificent Ambersons, due in part to
its famous treatment by Orson Welles in 1942 and its frequently
favored listing on the Modern Library's list of top-100 novels. It
was the second volume in Tarkington's Growth trilogy, which traced
the growth of the United States through the decline of the
once-powerful and aristocratic Amberson family dynasty, contrasted
against the rise of industrial tycoons and "new money" families in
the economic boom years after the Civil War leading up to World War
I. Tarkington donated substantially to Purdue University and has
been recognized for his philanthropy. Tarkington Hall, an all-men's
residence hall at Purdue, is named in honor of him. Source: