Category Archives: biographical (including posts with fragmentary but potentially useful biographical information about Dreiser, his family, or associates)

George K. Nelson to Theodore Dreiser, June 8, 1933

 

 

George K. Nelson to Dreiser 6-8-1933

 

 

Posted here is a copy of a letter dated June 8, 1933 to Theodore Dreiser from his nephew George K. Nelson.

George Kates Nelson (1892-1955) was the son of Dreiser’s sister Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser by Lorenzo A. Hopkins. Mr. Nelson was the manager of a hotel in Manhattan.

Dreiser was close to George K. Nelson’s sister Gertrude A. Hopkins, his niece. But, the cold, businesslike letter posted here shows that there was no personal relationship between Dreiser and his nephew George. Nelson had had a relationship in his adolescence with his uncle Paul Dresser, the songwriter (Theodore Dreiser’s brother), this according to an interview with Gloria N. Vevante, George K. Nelson’s daughter, conducted by Roger W. Smith in 2007.

Nelson writes here: “It is understood that any such moneys received by me will be received as agent for Mary F. Brennan, Sylvia Kishima, Emma A. Nelson [George K. Nelson’s mother], Albert J. Dreiser and Rome M. Dresser. …” They were Dreiser’s siblings.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 2017

Ed Dreiser to brother Theodore, April 30, 1938

 

 

Edward Dreiser to brother Theodore 4-20-1938.jpg
Posted here is a copy of a letter dated April 30, 1938 from Theodore Dreiser’s younger brother Eduard Minerod Dreiser (1873-1958) to Dreiser

Mentioned in the letter:

“the Astoria family” —  Dreiser’s sisters Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser (1863-1936); Maria Franziska Dreiser (Mame; 1861-1944); and Cacilia Dreiser (ca. 1865-1945), all of whom lived in their later years in Astoria, Queens, New York City

“Mame” — Dreiser’s sister Maria Franziska Dreiser

“Mai” — Edward Dreiser’s wife Mai V. (Skelly) Dreiser (1878-1955)

“Vera” — Edward Dreiser’s daughter Vera Dreiser (1908-1998), Theodore Dreiser’s niece

“Paul” – Driers brother, the songwriter Paul Dresser (1856-1906)

“Dreiser Seriously Hurt in Mishap”

 

 

news item from unidentified newspaper, May 14, 1919

 

 

 

'Dreiser Seriously Hurt in Mishap' 5-14-1919

Roger W. Smith, “The Real Julia Hurstwood and the Lutz Murder Case”

 

 

Note – the Word document below containing the article by Roger W. Smith on which this post is based has been updated as of March 16, 2017 with some new content based upon news accounts appearing in Chicago newspapers in February 1886.

 

 

Theodore Dreiser drew heavily on real life incidents in writing his first novel, Sister Carrie. The main persons behind the story were his sister Emma and her lover, Lorenzo A. Hopkins.

I have done some investigating attempting to dig out more facts about Emma, about Hopkins, and about their relationship and children. There is much confusion despite what scholars have already managed to uncover. Dreiser himself gave sketchy accounts in his autobiographical writings.

I was aware that Hopkins’s wife, before he became involved with Emma Dreiser, was named Margaret and that they had one child, a daughter named Maria, who around 18 years old when Hopkins stole money from his employer in Chicago and absconded with Emma.

There was a Margaret Lutz, a married woman who seemed to be right age as Hopkins’s wife, who was murdered in 1900 — 14 years after her husband absconded — by her brother-in-law and who was, at the time, living just down the street (on the same block) from where she and Hopkins were previously living. Could this be the same woman as Margaret Hopkins, who had remarried a man surnamed Lutz?

It turned out that it indeed was. The key to proving this was that I recently found records of Margaret Hopkins’s divorce from her first husband, Lorenzo Hopkins, and her marriage to Alfred Lutz around eight years before she was murdered.

Attached below as a downloadable Word document is a new article of mine about the case and its relationship to the portrayal of Hurstwood and his wife Julia in Sister Carrie.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

     March 2017

 

 

‘The Real Julia Hurstwood and the Lutz Murder Case

 

 

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Addendum:

 

Also posted here below as a downloadable PDF document is a brief genealogical report for Margaret (Menkler Hopkins) Lutz.

 

 

Descendants of Margaret Menkler

 

 

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See also:

 

“Lorenzo A. Hopkins (the real George Hurstwood)”

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/lorenzo-a-hopkins-the-real-george-hurstwood/

Lorenzo A. Hopkins (the real George Hurstwood)

 

 

Please note.

 

This post partially reiterates and also amplifies upon material in a previous post of mine, namely: “Lorenzo A. Hopkins, Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser, and Family”

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/roger-w-smith-lorenzo-a-hopkins-emma-wilhelmina-dreiser-and-family/

 

 

 

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‘Lorenzo A. Hopkins, the real George Hurstwood’

 

 

Above is a downloadable Word document containing an article about Lorenzo A. Hopkins (1847-1897), who was the real life model for the character of George Hurstwood in Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie. The article includes newly discovered factual information about Hopkins, including his death, information about which has not hitherto been found. It is a significant matter to investigate since, in real life, Hopkins, the model for Hurstwood, was left by his lover Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser (Dreiser’s sister), leading to the decline and death of Hurstwood, which concludes the novel.

Also provided here (see below) are images of Hopkins’s death certificate, his gravestone, and the cemetery (Mt.  Olivet Cemetery in Maspeth, Queens, NYC) where he is buried.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   February 2017

 

 

 

See also:

“The Real Julia Hurstwood and the Lutz Murder Case”

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/the-real-julia-hurstwood-and-the-lutz-murder-case/

 

 

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Lorenzo A. Hopkins death certificate

 

 

 

 

Lorenzo A. Hopkins gravestone (photograph by Roger W. Smith)

 

lorenzo-a-hopkins-gravestone-mt-olivet-cemetry-maspeth-queens-ny-roger

 

 

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, NYC (photograph by Roger W. Smith)

 

mt-olivet-cemetery-9-19-a-m-11-24-2016

excerpts from the autobiography of Harold James Dies

 

 

Posted here below as a downloadable PDF document are excerpts from the autobiography of Harold James Dies (1914-2012). Mr. Dies was related, on his mother’s side, to Theodore Dreiser’s second wife, Helen (Patges) (Richardson) Dreiser. He was Trustee of the Dreiser Trust.

The full title of the autobiography is “The Kingdom of God and the World’s Final Generation: The Life Story of Harold James Dies” (2010).

Included in the autobiography is anecdotal material related to Theodore Dreiser and his second wife Helen, as well as some information about Dreiser’s niece Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1963) that is not available elsewhere. Topics of interest discussed in the autobiography, and included in the excerpts posted below, include:

Mr. Dies’s relationship with Dreiser’s second wife Helen, whom he knew from his early years, and biographical information about her

his meeting Dreiser and some anecdotal material about Dreiser

mention of his cousin congressman Martin Dies, chairman of the House un-American Activities Committee

his relationship with Gertrude Amelia Hopkins, Dreiser’s favorite niece and the daughter of Dreiser’s sister Emma (“Sister Carrie”)

negotiations over the production of Tobias Picker’s opera “An American Tragedy”

I wish to thank Joann Crouch, Mr. Dies’s niece, who told me about this unique book and made it available to me for photocopying.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

      February 2017

 

 

 

the-life-story-of-harold-james-dies-excerpts

 

Bennett Cerf, “A Luncheon at the Ritz”

 

 

bennett-cerf-a-luncheon-at-the-ritz

 

 

 

Posted here is a downloadable PDF file of an article by publisher Bennett Cerf (1898–1971):

Bennett Cerf, “A Luncheon at the Ritz,” Playboy, vol. XIII, January 1969, pp. 179, 239.

Cerf describes a luncheon that Theodore Dreiser had at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manhattan during which an oft recounted incident occurred. During the luncheon, Dreiser argued with publisher Horace Liveright over his share of the proceeds from the sale of film rights to his best selling novel An American Tragedy, and, outraged because he felt Liveright was cheating him out the share to which he was entitled, threw a cup of coffee at Liveright. (It was a huge sum, by any measure, for the 1920’s.)

The luncheon took place on March 19, 1926. It has been stated in other sources that it was attended by Dreiser, film producer Jesse L. Lasky, and Liveright.

Cerf claims in the article posted here that he was at the luncheon; he does not mention Lasky’s having been present. This has been questioned, as has been the accuracy of Cerf’s recollections of the luncheon.

Cerf states that the luncheon “involved exactly three people: …. Dreiser himself, … Horace Liveright, … and me. Despite other accounts to the contrary, that was the entire cast of characters. … .”

Cerf describes how he met Dreiser after joining the Liveright publishing firm in 1923. He describes Dreiser as an annoying visitor who would show up at the firm’s Manhattan offices periodically, would find fault with royalty statements, and would attempt to “make time” with a woman employee of the firm.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     November 2016
Note: This account was incorporated into Bennett Cerf, At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf (New York: Random House, 1977), pp. 58-59.