Newton Booth Tarkington
Newton Booth Tarkington (July 29, 1869 – May 19, 1946) Booth Tarkington was born in Indianapolis, the son of John
S. Tarkington and Elizabeth Booth Tarkington, his father being a a lawyer and judge. He was named after his maternal uncle Newton Booth,
then the governor of California.
Tarkington had a middle-class upbringing in Indianapolis. Tarkington first attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, but completed his
secondary education at Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school on the East CoastHe first attended Purdue University at Layfayette,
Indiana for 2 years where he was a member of the university's Morley Eating Club and after some of his family's wealth returned after
the Panic of 1873 his mother transferred her son to Princeton University class of 1893 it is said that he was known 'Tark' by fellow
mebers of the Eating Club; he was also an active as a student-actor and served as president of Princeton's Dramatic Association besides being
voted "most pop ular" by the class of 1893, but it is said graduated from neither -- but while at Princeton he was aslo the editor of the
Nassau Literary Magazine. Princeton Unuvesity later awarded him both an honorary A.M. (1899) and an honorary Doctor of Letters
(Litt.D.) in 1918.
In 1893, Tarkington returned to Indianapolis and tried to make a living from drawing and writing. A period of rejections followed his sale
of a sketch with text to Life magazine in 1895, but finally, in 1898, Tarkington's manuscript The Gentleman from Indiana was accepted for
publication by New York publisher S.S. McClure and became a bestseller in 1900, launching a long and financially successful literary career.
With his financial success, Tarkington developed into a collector of antique furniture and of paintings, partic ularly 17th- and 18th-century English
portraits. He was a knowledgeable trustee of the John Herron Art Museum (now the Indianapolis Museum of Art) and used his knowledge of art
to write Some Old Portraits (1939). He carried on an extensive correspondence with his favorite art dealers, the Silberman brothers in New
York, who became the basis for his stories collected in Rumbin Galleries (1937).
Tarkington felt that it was the duty of good citizens to run for public office, so, in 1902, Tarkington ran for and won a seat as a Republican in
the Indiana State House of Representatives; this position provided background for his book In the Arena: Stories of Political Life. Especially in l
ater life, Tarkington became very conservative in politics, violently opposed to FDR and the New Deal.
His first marriage, was in 1902 to Laurel Louise Fletcher, by an articel apprearing in the "The Chicago American"
dated Sunday, July 16, 1905 - titled CHICAGO GIRLS MAKE HIT AT INDIANA SUMMER RESORT - SOME OF THE SOCIETY BELLES
AT THE POP ulAR INDIANA SUMMER RESORT
it says that:
Booth Tarkington chose it not only as the fitting place in which to put the finishing touches to the "Gentleman from
Indiana," but as the spot of all others for his honeymoon. After a hurried trip through the East he and Louisa Fletcher
Tarkington spent the lovely month of October here alone, the long, purple, silent days they gave to rowing, sailing,
driving, walking. Then at sundown they donned evening dress (Louisa and decollete creations of the country's best
artists) and dined in splendor alone.
The marriage ended in divorce in 1911, and his daughter by that marriage, also named Laurel, was born in 1906 and died in 1923.
In 1912, he married Susanah Kiefer Robinson of Dayton, who survived him by twenty years; they had no children.
Tarkington travelled throughout Europe and North America, and eventually built an estate, Seawood, in Kennebunkport, Maine,
where he and his second wife, Susannah Robinson, lion their later years lived from May through December each year, returning
to Indianapolis at 4270 North Meridian Street for the balance (from 1923-1946),Tarkington described the houses in his
neighborhood as having a “picture book house” appearance.
During the 1920's Tarkington began to lose his eyesight becoming blind in his later years; but continued producing his works by
by dictation to a secretary. He also became of The Forum magazine (established 1886) and known as "the
magazine of controversy" from 1923 to 1940.
Found in the standard biography of him -- Booth Tarkington, Gentleman from Indiana, by James Woodress (1955) -- is his
connection to Lake Maxinkuckee.
He saw a good deal of his nephews, Donald, John, and Booth Jameson, the sons of his sister Haute (Mrs. Ovid Butler Jameson), and of their
children. His letters to his nephews are collected in Your Amiable Uncle: Letters to His Nephews by Booth Tarkington (1949; illus. with
his original sketches). and re-printed oissibly as My Amiable Uncle: Recollections about Booth Tarkington' by Susanah Mayberry, 1983; pg. 19
Then in August of 1890, he went to visit at Maxinkuckee in northern Indiana,
where his spirits were enlivened by his meeting with Geneve Reynolds. ...
Wrote Mark A. Roeder in A History of Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee:
"Booth Tarkington wrote at least a part of The Gentleman
from Indiana while staying at a fishing cottage on the East Shore...on one corner of a
wall is a picture of a young man carved into the wall and some written verse. It is signed, "Booth Tarkington." The author had
a connection to Lake Maxinkuckee going back to at least 1890, when he was twenty-one. He visited here in August of that year.
During his time here, he met Geneve Reynolds. They played tennis and argued about Elizabeth Browning and George Merideth.
Tarkington grew rather attached to the young lady."
Perhaps the cottage was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Ovid Butler
or perhaps by his mother's family, named Booth, hints
, who is researching Tarkington. And writes:
"However, I couldn't resist following up the connection between Booth Tarkington, Princeton 1893, and Lake M. "
The Collection of Booth Tarkington
(Printed Books, Journals, articles etc.) pg. 42 ...Booth Tarkington at Maxinkuckee '89...
Hauté Tarkington Jameson was christened Mary Booth Tarkington but always called Hauté for Terre Haute, which she was fond of
visiting as a child." re James Woodress', 'Booth Tarkington, Gentleman from Indiana' (1955), 322.
"Because he believed in education— even for women Elizabeth Booth's [mother of Hauté/Mary Booth] father sent his
daughter to the best school in Terre Haute, which happened to be St. Mary-of-the-Woods, a Catholic institution. . . . Elizabeth
Booth in turn sent her daughter to a convent school in spite of the objections that her Methodist-minister father-in-law must
have voiced." Ibid., 23.
You are right, I'm sure, that Hauté was a nickname of BT's sister, Mary Booth Tarkington. The WPA marriage records are definitive.
I will investigate my source, the biography of BT, in this regard (it's been a while since I read it), and I'll report if I find
The Jameson & Judah Cottage is at 1910 East Shore Drive, here are the notes from that entry:
1898 - Jamison & Judah
1908 - Jamison &
1922 - Mary S. Judah
WPA enteries for Marion county on Booth:
Surname: TARKINGTON,Given Name: NEWTON,Sex: M,Color: W,Age: 33,Spouse:,Spouse Surname:,Month: JUN
Day: 18,Year: 1902,Father: JOHN,Mother: ---,Maiden Name: BOOTH,B/L Month:,B/L Day: 0,B/L Year: 0
County: MARION,Book: 7,Page: 142
Surname: TARKINGTON,Given Name: NEWTON B,Sex:,Color: -,Age: 0,Spouse: LAUREL L,Spouse Surname: FLETCHER,Month:
JUN,Day: 18,Year: 1902,Father: ,Mother:,Maiden Name:,B/L Month: ---,B/L Day:, B/L Year: 0,County: MARION,Book:
Surname: FLETCHER,Given Name: LAUREL L,Sex:,Color: -,Age: 0,Spouse: NEWTON,Spouse Surname: TARKINGTON,Month:
JUN,Day: 18,Year: 1902,Father:,Mother:Maiden Name:,B/L Month: ---,B/L Day: B/L Year: 0,County: MARION,Book: 34,
Surname: FLETCHER,Given Name: LAURELL,Sex: F,Color: M,Age: 24,Spouse:,Spouse Surname:,Month: JUN,
Day: 18,Year: 1902,Father: S J,Mother: ---,Maiden Name: LOCKS,B/L Month:,B/L Day: 0,B/L Year: 0,
County: MARION,Book: 7,Page: 142
ONE-TANK TRIP: Lake Maxinkuckee is a beautiful, hidden destination
BY FREDERICK KARST, Times Correspondent
nwitimes.com on Saturday, September 27, 2003
..."Steamboats, carrying crowds of sightseers to such locations as the Maxinkuckee Landing, plied the lake.
Passengers would visit the town of Maxinkuckee, where the Allegheny House accepted guests. The visitors
included a succession of literary greats. .... at the Allegheny House.
Booth Tarkington is believed to have put the finishing touches to "The Gentleman From Indiana" there. The old hostelry is still standing
and marked by a plaque, although it now is a private residence."...
He was one of the most pop ular 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 1941 and its frequently favored listing on the Modern Library's
list of top-100 no vels.
He was best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams. His works are: The Gentleman from Indiana (1899);
Monsieur Beaucaire (1900; later adapted for the stage); The Two Vanrevels (1902); Penrod (1914); The Turmoil (1915) (first
volume of the trilogy Growth); Penrod and Sam (1916); Seventeen (1917) ; The Magnificent Ambersons (1918; won the 1919 P ulitzer
Prize; filmed 1941 by Orson Welles; second volume of the trilogy Growth); Alice Adams (1921; won the 1922 P ulitzer Prize; filmed
1935); Gentle J ulia (1922); The Midlander (1924) (1927 re-titled National Avenue; third volume of the trilogy Growth); The
Plutocrat (1927); Claire Ambler (1928); Penrod Jashber (1929); Mirthf ul Haven (1930); Mary's Neck (1932); Presenting Lily
Mars (1933) (filmed 1943); Kate Fennigate (1943); The Conquest of Canaan; Ramsey Milholland; The Turmoil; His Own People; The
He donated some of his papers to Princeton University, his alma mater, and his wife Susannah, made a separate gift of his remaining
papers to Colby College after his death.
The is buried in the Crown Hill Cemtery at Indianapolis, Marion, Indaian