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Sister Carrie
"A Strangely Strong Novel
in a Queer Milieu"
Curated by Nancy M. Shawcross
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Pennsylvania

John Paul Dreiser
Theodore's Father


ca. 1880s

Theodore Dreiser's father was a German immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island in 1844, a weaver and wool-dyer by trade. Although he met with some financial success in the mill business, a series of accidents left Dreiser's father impoverished and reduced to a mere laborer by 1871, the year of Theodore's birth. John Paul Dreiser's religious fanaticism (he was Catholic) only increased as time went on and troubles grew. Superstitious, he imparted this trait to Theodore. In the midst of Dreiser's despair over the woeful promotion and mixed reception of Sister Carrie, his father died on Christmas day, 1900, at the home of Theodore's sister, Mame, in Rochester, New York. John Paul Dreiser was buried in Chicago next to his wife, where son Paul was later to be placed.



Theodore Dreiser
Sister Carrie
New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1900
First edition inscribed by Dreiser to "To my dear Father -- with a sort of inheritance provided by which I manage to inscribe it also to Mame and Austin. If any of you fail to read and praise it the book reverts to me. With love (according to precedence) -- Theodore."
Sister Emma
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