Theodore Dreiser was born in Sullivan, Indiana in 1871; he received his early education in the public schools of the state. He attended Indiana University briefly before embarking on a journalistic career which provided the spring board for his fiction.
Some of his ideas presented in his first novel Sister Carrie published in 1900 were influenced by forces such as the condition of his own personal life, the spirit of the times in which he lived and the literature which he had read.
Sister Carrie, published in 1900, is a novel by Theodore Dreiser about a young country girl who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American dream by first becoming a mistress to men that she perceives as superior and later as famous actress. It has been called the “greatest of all American urban novels.
Parts of Sister Carrie reflect events from Dreiser’s own turbulent life. IN 1886, L. A. Hopkins, a clerk in a Chicago saloon, took $3,500 from his employers, and with Emma Dreiser, one of the author’s sisters, fled to New York. Dreiser modeled Carrie after Emma and used Hopkins for aspects of Hurstwood’s personality. By the time the novel was finished in 1900, however, he had gone far beyond the sordid story of adultery and theft and had created a work which presented complex questions of innocence and guilt.
Dissatisfied with life in her rural Wisconsin home, 18-year-old Caroline "Sister Carrie" Meeber takes the train to Chicago, where her older sister Minnie, and her husband Sven Hanson, have agreed to take her in. On the train, Carrie meets Charles Drouet, a travelling salesman, who is attracted to her because of her simple beauty and unspoiled manner. They exchange contact information, but upon discovering the "steady round of toil" and somber atmosphere at her sister's flat, she writes to Drouet and discourages him from calling on her there.
Carrie soon embarks on a quest for work to pay rent to her sister...