The Golden Age of Indiana Literature

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When speaking of the arts, most people don’t think of Indiana right off the bat. We have an unfortunate reputation of being nothing but miles of cornfields. (This is unfair and wholly untrue. We also have a lot of soybeans.)

We also have a hotbed of aesthetic culture.

English: White river; Indianapolis, Indiana, J...
White River; Indianapolis, Indiana, July 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indianapolis has two major art museums (and several smaller), a whole slew of various other cool museums, a compact and entertaining downtown, and a thriving theater community with a ridiculously high number of theaters per capita. (I frequently catch a small or large production, in houses from a cozy supposedly-haunted lodge to the gorgeous Indiana Repertory Theater.) And Indiana has long been known for literature in particular.

This I knew, but I didn’t know the statistics of it. But a recent Indy Writes excerpt in Nuvo shared some fun facts: John Moriarty calculated in 1947 that Indiana produced more bestselling authors than New York State. Even in 1990, after the so-called Golden Age of Indiana Literature had ended, we still came in right behind New York and England with bestselling writers. (Though I think England rather has an unfair advantage, what with Shakespeare and Austen and all.)

Of course everyone thinks of General Lew Wallace and Ben-Hur — and rightly so — but there are many other great names in Indiana’s literary lineup. Booth Tarkington won the Pulitzer twice, for crying out loud. And we’re still tearing up the charts, as John Green assails bookstores and theaters.

And, Lonely Planet just named us one of the country’s best places to visit. Seriously, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on here.

Indiana State Capitol at the end of Market St,...
Indiana State Capitol at the end of Market St, Indianapolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So when you stop by Indianapolis, be sure to take a moment to think about our writers and maybe even stop in at a local bookstore. You might find a new favorite here in the corn!

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for enlightening us with the literary history of Indiana on this anniversary of our statehood. Very cool information.

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