Alice Adams (Garden City, N.Y., 1921) is one of several novels written by Hoosier author Booth Tarkington. Tarkington depicted an Indianapolis polluted with smoke and social discrimination.

The cover depicts a 1920s' street scene. Above the scene is printed "Alice Adams", and below it is printed Booth Tarkington.
Front cover of the first-edition dust jacket of the novel Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington, 1921 Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons View Source

Alice, a girl whose family circumstances offer little hope of her being a social success, invents what she considers a more desirable persona for herself and background for her family. As a result, she attracts a young man from the “proper” circle and is able to fascinate him for a time. However, her fabrications break down in the end leading her to humiliating exposure and loss of her suitor.

Alice Adams won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922. The most famous movie version of the book, made by RKO in 1935, starred Katharine Hepburn. The play adapted by Elizabeth Trotter from the novel was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Indianapolis on March 7, 1946, about two months before the author’s death in May of that year.

Revised February 2021

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