New Production Celebrates the Life of Sinclair Lewis on the 100th Anniversary of Main Street

By James V. Gambone, Ph.D. 
Producer and Co-Director

A little over a century ago, Sinclair Lewis changed the way the world looked at small towns with the publication of Main Street. In the first six months of 1921 the novel sold over 180,000 copies, shining a light on the problems linked to small-town provincial thinking. Main Street has been translated into 47 languages, is taught by global scholars in Germany, Russia, China, Israel, and elsewhere, and played a substantial role in the author’s 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature. It was the first for an American novelist!

Now, a new internationally award-winning 80-minute color and black and white dramatic production, The Life & Loves Of Sinclair Lewis, commissioned by the Sinclair Lewis Foundation in Sauk Centre, MN, Lewis’ birthplace, and funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society, is available digitally at no cost on the foundation’s website:

The foundation only asks that you make a tax-deductible contribution after watching it. (A two-part educational version of the production, with a discussion guide aimed at high schools and universities, is also available at no cost, with the same contribution request)

In this original script by playwright Bob Beverage, based on a story idea I wrote, we meet the acclaimed author and his two ex-wives, Grace Hegger Lewis and Dorothy Thompson, whose combined histories and relationships with Lewis help reveal the man behind the myths. Lewis and his wives are interviewed in an extended dream sequence by a modern journalist who has long imagined a meeting with Lewis. Many areas of Lewis’s life are revealed, including his writing discipline, doubts about winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, struggles with alcohol, and deep and powerful relationship with his hometown of Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Also considered is the relevance of his work today.

Lewis’ novels are as relevant in 2022 as they were when they were published. Racism, the rise of authoritarianism, religious hypocrisy, even life during a pandemic—these concerns are all addressed in Kingsblood Royal, It Can’t Happen Here, Elmer Gantry, and Arrowsmith. I hope this production will intrigue new generations of viewers and readers to take a second look at Sinclair Lewis and the genre of social realism he helped create and develop. The production also draws all of the major dialogue of the three historical characters from their own spoken or written words. This approach makes the show a true docudrama.

Again, if you watch the production, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the foundation to help maintain the birth home of Sinclair Lewis in Sauk Centre, MN (pop. 4.466) and continue the annual Sinclair Lewis Writer’s Conference the first weekend of every October, the oldest continuing writer’s conference in the Upper Midwest.

I will be keynoting the 2022 virtual Sinclair Lewis Society Conference on July 14th directly from the Lewis birth home, and discussing the production during the pandemic. It is open to anyone wishing to attend at no cost. If you would like to participate, please email: Dr. Sally Parry, Director of the Sinclair Lewis Society. (

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