Lifetime: 1889 - 1940 Passed: ≈ 83 years ago


Biographer, Novelist


United States

Thomas Beer

Thomas Beer was an American biographer, novelist, essayist, satirist, and author of short fiction.

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Beer graduated from Yale University in 1911 and studied law at Columbia University from 1911 through 1913. He also served during World War I.

Beer was best known for his biographies of Stephen Crane (1923) and Mark Hanna (1929), as well as his study of American manners during the 1890s, The Mauve Decade (1926). He published three novels—The Fair Rewards (1922), Sandoval: A Romance of Bad Manners (1924), and The Road to Heaven: A Romance of Morals (1928)—in addition to more than 130 short stories in The Saturday Evening Post. In 1927, with the help of Eugene Spreicher and Atherton Curtis, Beer produced George W. Bellows: His Lithographs, a catalogue raisonné, with reproductions of the artist's black-and-white lithographs.

A collection of Beer's short stories was published under the title Mrs. Egg and Other Barbarians in 1933. After Beer's death of a heart attack in his apartment in the Hotel Albert in New York, another collection of his short stories, edited by Wilson Follett, was published as Mrs. Egg and Other Americans: Collected Stories (1947). These two collections are frequently confused: for example, the Columbia Encyclopedia entry on Beer gives the 1933 title for Follet's 1947 collection.

Beer never married. John Clendenning, the biographer of Josiah Royce, is cited in an article in the Des Moines, Iowa Register as having identified Beer as a closeted homosexual and an alcoholic and suggesting that his death was a suicide.

Books by Thomas Beer

The Fair Rewards  Cover image

The Fair Rewards

Love History Realism Devotion Progress America United States General Fiction

"The Fair Rewards" by Thomas Beer is a really distiguished novel. The writing is far above the average: it has style and sophistication and personality, intermingled with a truly vivid show of imagination. It even borders on brilliancy, but it is a h...