Died on this day – 25 September 1933

Ring_LardnerRinggold Wilmer Lardner better known simply as Ring Lardner was born in Niles, Michigan on 6 March 1885. Lardner became a sports columnist and short story writer best known for his satirical takes on the world of sports. Lardner never liked his given name and shortened it, naming one of his sons Ring Jr.  It was Ring Jr who became the journalist and screenwriter blacklisted through the offices of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).

Lardner started his writing career as a sports columnist and in 1907, he moved to Chicago. Two years later, Lardner was in St Louis, writing the humorous baseball column “Pullman Pastimes”. In 1913, Lardner returned to the Chicago Tribune, which became the home paper for his syndicated column “In the Wake of the News”. It appeared in more than 100 newspapers, and still runs in the Tribune.

In 1916, Lardner published his first successful book, You Know Me Al, an epistolary novel written in the form of letters by “Jack Keefe”, a bush-league baseball player, to a friend back home. The letters made heavy use of the fictional author’s idiosyncratic vernacular. Like most of Lardner’s stories, You Know Me Al employs satire, in this case to show the stupidity and avarice of a certain type of athlete. The journalist Andrew jackson wrote that “Ring Lardner thought of himself as primarily a sports columnist whose stuff wasn’t destined to last, and he held to that absurd belief even after his first masterpiece, You Know Me Al, was published in 1916 and earned the awed appreciation of Virginia Woolf, among other very serious, unfunny people.”

Lardner was a close friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other writers of the Jazz Age. His books were published by Maxwell Perkins, who also served as Fitzgerald’s editor. Lardner influenced Ernest Hemingway, who sometimes wrote articles for his high school newspaper under the pseudonym Ring Lardner, Jr. The two met in December 1928, thanks to Max Perkins, but did not become friends.

In 1933 despite his ill-health Lardner visited France and called at The Glass Key bookshop in Montmorillon to sign copies of his novel You Know Me Al. It was here that Lardner died on 25 September 25 at the age of 48 of complications from tuberculosis.

Leave a Reply