Category Archives: Sister Carrie

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 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

 

 

*********************************************

 

 

Addendum:

 

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

 

 

descendants-of-margaret-menkler

 

 

*********************************************

 

 

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/

 

 

 

************************************************

 

 

‘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/

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 


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

a key source for “Sister Carrie”?

The following article does not appear in Dreiser bibliographies because it is not about Dreiser:

Henry, Sarah M. “The Strikers and Their Sympathizers: Brooklyn in the Trolley Strike of 1895,” Labor History 32.3 (summer 1991): 329- 53

However, the article would presumably be of interest to Dreiser scholars. It covers the Brooklyn trolley strike of 1895, which Dreiser drew upon for the plot of Sister Carrie.

In chapters XL and XLI of Sister Carrrie, the strike is described in great detail. Hurstwood, who is at first sympathetic to the strikers, becomes a scab out of desperation to find employment. He works as a trolley car motorman for a single day, and is subject to obloquy and physical abuse by strikers and their sympathizers.

The above referenced article is posted on online at

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00236569100890211?journalCode=clah20

It is not downloadable except for a fee and with permission of the publisher.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     October 2016

contemporary newspaper accounts about the real life Hurstwood’s theft

 

 

 

the-safes-contents-missing-chi-inter-ocean-2-16-1886

 

 

cashier-and-money-missing-ny-times-2-16-1886

 

 

hopkins-skip-chi-inter-ocean-2-17-1886-pg-8-3

 

 

item re Hopkins (returned money) - Chi Tribune 2-19-1886, pg. 8.jpg

 

 

hopkins-is-sorry-chi-tribune-2-17-1886

 

 

See downloadable files above.

 

 

**********************************************

 

 

Theodore Dreiser’s first novel, Sister Carrie, was based on real people and incidents: (1) Dreiser’s sister Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser  (Carrie Meeber in the novel); and, (2) Emma’s lover L. A. Hopkins (George Hurstwood in the novel). They absconded to New York after Hopkins, a married man, stole money from his employer in Chicago.

The incident in which Hopkins stole cash from his employer, Chapin & Gore (Fitzgerald and Moy in the novel), a firm that owned a number of Chicago saloons, and absconded — a central incident which underpins the plot of Sister Carrie (where Hurstwood does the same things) — happened in February 1886 and was covered in contemporary newspapers.

Five such newspaper accounts are attached here as downloadable files:

“The Safe’s Contents Missing,” Chicago Inter Ocean, February 16 1886

“Cashier and Money Missing,” New York Times, February 16, 1886

“Hopkins’ Skip,” Chicago Inter Ocean, February 17, 1886

“Hopkins Is Sorry,” Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1886

news item re return of money by Hopkins, Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1886

 

 

–Roger W. Smith

    November 2016

Roger W. Smith, “Lorenzo A. Hopkins, Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser, and Family”

lorenzo-hopkins-and-family

See attached downloadable Word document.

Also, see below:

photo of Lorenzo A. Hopkins’s grave

photo of Theodore Dreiser’s niece Gertrude A. Hopkins

Lorenzo A. Hopkins (aka L. A. Hopkins; 1847-1897) was the real life counterpart of the character George Hurstwood in Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie.

Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1973), Theodore Dreiser’s niece, was the daughter of Dreiser’s sister Enema Dreiser (1863-1936). Emma was the real life counterpart of, and model for, the lead character in Sister Carrie.

********************************************
Abstract/Summary:

Theodore Dreiser’s first novel, Sister Carrie, was based on real people and incidents: Dreiser’s sister Emma; and, Emma’s lover L. A. Hopkins with whom she eloped after Hopkins, a married man, stole money from his employer in Chicago.

In the novel, Carrie Meeber’s lover, George Hurstwood, commits suicide. Very little has been known hitherto about the identity of L. A. Hopkins, the real life model for Hurstwood, or what became of him after he and Dreiser’s sister Emma, the model for Carrie Meeber, settled in New York City.

This article provides information about Hopkins and his death. It also provides information about the life of Dreiser’s sister Emma after Hopkins’s death and about the children of Hopkins and Emma; they had two children whom Dreiser met in 1894 when he first visited New York City: George Nelson and Gertrude Hopkins. The former, George Nelson, did not relate to Dreiser in later life, though in his youth he had some contact with Dreiser’s brother Paul Dresser. The latter, Gertrude Hopkins, was Dreiser’s favorite niece.

— Roger W. Smith

     October 2016

See also:

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/contemporary-newspaper-accounts-about-the-real-life-hurstwoods-theft/

 

lorenzo-a-hopkins-grave-posted

Gertrude A. Hopkins (Dreiser's niece)
Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1973)

“How to Make ‘Sister Carrie’ Come Alive” — new opera

 

 

how-to-make-sister-carrie-come-alive

 

Attached is an article in Urban Milwaukee, posted on line on October 3, 2016.

Sister Carrie, a new opera based on the Dreiser novel, composed by Robert Aldridge with a libretto by Herschel Garfein, had its world premiere in September 2016 in a performance by the Florentine Opera Company in Milwaukee.

 

 

'Sister Carrie' - playbill.jpg

 

 

did Dreiser plagiarize in writing his first novel?

 

Salzman, ‘Dreiser and Ade’

 

 

****************************************************

 

Professor Jack Salzman has answered this question definitively with a yes. Dreiser did plagiarize – contrary to the assessment of Dreiser biographer W. A. Swanberg — from George Ade (1866–1944), an Indiana born newspaper columnist, humorist, novelist, short story writer, and playwright, in a passage in the opening chapter of Sister Carrie.

See Jack Salzman, “Dreiser and Ade: A Note on the Text of Sister Carrie,” American Literature, vol. 40, no. 4 (January 1969), pp. 544-548 — posted here as a downloaable PDF file).

Thanks to Professor Salzman for permission to post this article.

 

See also:

“George Ade Absolves Dreiser”

https://dreiseronlinecom.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/george-ade-absolves-dreiser/