Ring Lardner (Ringold Wilmer Lardner) Biography
(1885–1933), (Ringold Wilmer Lardner), Chicago Tribune, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post
American journalist and short-story writer, born in Niles, Michigan, educated at Armour Institute of Technology, Chicago. He first established himself as a sportswriter and journalist for various newspapers, notably the Chicago Tribune for which he wrote the column ‘In the Wake of the News’. In 1919 he moved to Long Island, taking up a syndicated column for the Bell Syndicate. Lardner devoted much of his short literary life to the perfection of the short story, particularly the short story in vernacular mode. The earliest of these, which appeared in Redbook and The Saturday Evening Post, included a sequence of six stories of an apprentice baseball player recounting his experiences of big league baseball in letters to his home-town friend, Al, subsequently collected as You Know Me, Al: A Busher's Letters (1916). Edmund Wilson said of Lardner that he had ‘an unexcelled, a perhaps unrivalled, mastery’ of the American language, and his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of ‘some of the most uproarious and inspired nonsense since Lewis Carroll’. (See Fitzgerald's essay ‘Ring’ in The Crack-Up.) Other successful collections include The Real Dope (1919) and How to Write Short Stories (with Samples) (1924); The Big Town (1921) is a sequence of five stories which mercilessly dissect American society in the post-war years of boom and prosperity. In 1926, Lardner was diagnosed as having tuberculosis and he became pessimistic and world-weary. The Best of Ring Lardner (1984) was edited by David Lodge, with a stimulating introduction. See also Ring Lardner: A Biography (1956) by Donald Elder.