More than a bit of folklore suggests Sinclair Lewis spent some time in Sherburne County, visiting family and, more importantly, writing. So, we have to sit, contemplate this lore, and consider any impact Lewis may have had on the area.
The first book published by Lewis, under the pseudonym Tom Graham, Hike and the Aeroplane marked the beginning of a significant career. Part of the folklore maintains that after the publication of his book Main Street he was ostracized. He never set foot in Sauk Centre again. However, family members owned property and lived in west Sherburne County.
In addition to Main Street, he went on to publish Babbitt, Elmer Gantry, and a host of other works. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. The first writer in the United States to win the award. Perhaps most insightful, his 1935 publication of It Can’t Happen Here explores events after a fascist wins the Presidential election. He died at age 65 in Rome, Italy. Yet, his writing career seemed prolific and impactful.
Because his life and travels remain difficult to track, the folklore of Sinclair Lewis visiting and staying in Sherburne County remains just that: folklore. Yet, we must wonder, with Lewis growing up in Sauk Centre, his extended family living in Sherburne County; did Sinclair Lewis influence the character and history of Sherburne County?