Posted on February 7, 2022 at 7:55 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Literary Hub shared this historical trivia in honor of Edith Wharton's birthday, but since the story also involves today's literary birthday boy — Sinclair Lewis — we're sharing it now.
As it turns out, the 1921 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction almost wasn't a historical moment.
Wharton, that year, became the first woman to receive the honor ... only because the Pulitzer board overruled its jury, which wanted to honor Lewis.
The reason? The board didn't see Lewis's satirical Main Street as "wholesome," as the prize demanded.
Instead, Wharton's The Age of Innocence was deemed more reflective of the criteria.
Lewis was understandably angry at the board, but he wrote a gracious congratulatory letter to Wharton, who in turn commiserated with the snubbed writer.
You can read excerpts of their correspondence at Lit Hub.
Categories: Today in Books