About Louis Stanton Auchincloss
Louis Stanton Auchincloss (/ˈɔːkɨŋklɒs/; September 27, 1917 – January 26, 2010) was an American lawyer, novelist, historian, and essayist. He is best known as a prolific novelist who parlayed his firsthand knowledge into dozens of finely wrought books exploring the private lives of America's East Coast patrician class (especially the world of Wall Street bankers, lawyers and stockbrokers). His dry, ironic works of fiction continued the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton.
Youth and education
Born in Lawrence, New York, Auchincloss was the son of Priscilla Dixon (née Stanton) and Joseph Howland Auchincloss. His paternal grandfather, John Winthrop Auchincloss, was the brother of Edgar Stirling Auchincloss (father of James C. Auchincloss) and Hugh Dudley Auchincloss (father of Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr.). He grew up among the privileged people about whom he would write, although, as he put it, "There was never an Auchincloss fortune…each generation of Auchincloss men either made or married its own money". He attended Groton School and Yale University, where he was editor of the Yale Literary Magazine. Although he did not complete his undergraduate studies at Yale, he was admitted to and attended law school at the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1941 and was admitted to the New York bar the same year.
Auchincloss was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell from 1941 to 1951 (with an interruption for war service from 1941 to 1945 in the United States Navy during World War II, which might have inspired his 1947 novel "The Indifferent Children"). After taking a break to pursue full-time writing, Auchincloss returned to working as a lawyer, firstly as an associate (1954–58) and then as a partner (1958–86) at Hawkins, Delafield and Wood in New York City as a wills and trusts attorney, while writing at the rate of a book a year.
Auchincloss is known for his closely observed portraits of old New York and New England society. Among his best-known books are the multi-generational sagas The House of Five Talents (1960), Portrait in Brownstone (1962), and East Side Story (2004). Other well-known novels include The Rector of Justin (1964), the tale of a renowned headmaster of a school like Groton trying to deal with changing times, and The Embezzler (1966), a look at white-collar crime.
Auchincloss died from complications of a stroke at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on January 26, 2010.
Significant collections of Auchincloss's papers reside at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia and at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
Awards and accolades
Member, American Academy of Arts and Letters (1965)
Honorary degree, New York University (Litt.D., 1974)
Honorary degree, Pace University (1979)
President, American Academy of Arts and Letters (19??)
Honorary degree, The University of the South (1986)
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1997)
"Living Landmark" status (2000), New York Landmarks Conservancy
National Medal of Arts (2005)
Auchincloss's The Great World and Timothy Colt (1956) was adapted for television in an episode of the Climax! series (Season 4, Episode 22; Broadcast 27 March 1958).
Evaluation by Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal said of his work: "Of all our novelists, Auchincloss is the only one who tells us how our rulers behave in their banks and their boardrooms, their law offices and their clubs.... Not since Dreiser has an American writer had so much to tell us about the role of money in our lives."