2005 National Medal of Arts
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush present the National Medal of Arts award to Louis Auchincloss. White House photo by Eric Draper.
Louis Auchincloss is one of America's great contemporary authors. Ralph Ellison has said of him: "Since Henry James, no American writer has met the challenge of writing the 'novel of manners' with the success of Louis Auchincloss."
Louis Stanton Auchincloss has had a long and multifaceted career. As a boy he spent his summers at Bar Harbor and on Long Island. Later he went to Groton and Yale, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and editor of the Yale Literary Magazine. After three years in New Haven, he left Yale and entered the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he took a law degree in 1941. During World War II, he spent four years with the U.S. Navy and returned to New York City to practice estate law, retiring from the Wall Street firm of Hawkins, Delafield, and Wood in 1986.
Auchincloss's distinguished fiction, in the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton, is concerned with the manners and mores of American life and, most recently, bygone professional morality -- in colleges, in law firms, and on Wall Street. Auchincloss has provided readers with insights that transcend the boundaries of class and religion, region and race, focusing on the conflict between America's ideals and its chaotic reality. His is a society in which even the wealthy are harassed by its swiftness of change, its shortness of memory, and the ongoing conflict of moral identity that marks its history.
Auchincloss has written nearly sixty books, including two multigenerational sagas, The House of Five Talents and Portrait in Brownstone. His novels include Venus in Sparta (1958), The Rector of Justin (1965), The Partners (1974), The Dark Lady (1977), Watchfires (1982), and East Side Story (2004).
He has also written Reflections of a Jacobite (1961), on Henry James; Edith Wharton: A Biography (1971); Richelieu (1972); and Woodrow Wilson (2000). A prolific writer, Auchincloss published False Gods, Fellow Passengers, and Love without Wings in 1991 alone. He is also known for his short stories; The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss was published in 1994. His most recent short story collection, The Young Apollo, will be published in April 2006.
Auchincloss has served on the board of many New York arts institutions and was honored in 2000 as a "Living Landmark" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. He is a former president of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.
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