Saturday, February 06, 2010

Obituary: Louis Auchincloss

Lawyer and prolific author Louis Auchincloss, 92, dies

By Dennis Drabelle
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Louis Auchincloss, 92, a novelist, essayist, biographer, editor and lawyer whose literary beat was the decline of the old WASP world of power and privilege to which he belonged, died Jan. 26 at Lenox Hill Hospital, near his home in Manhattan. He had complications from a stroke.

The author of more than 60 books in a career stretching over seven decades, Mr. Auchincloss was best known for such novels as "The Rector of Justin" (1964), about the founding headmaster of an elite prep school, and "The Embezzler" (1966), about an upper-class Wall Street stockbroker who succumbs to temptation during the Great Depression.

Louis Stanton Auchincloss (pronounced AWK-in-closs) was born in the Long Island, N.Y., community of Lawrence on Sept. 27, 1917, and grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side. As a youth, he was put off by his father's arid practice as a corporate lawyer and drawn to his mother's artistic pursuits.

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In 1965, Mr. Auchincloss got the jump on a literary movement by publishing "Pioneers & Caretakers: A Study of 9 American Women Novelists," including Ellen Glasgow, Willa Cather and a writer with whom Mr. Auchincloss himself was often compared: Edith Wharton. Not only did he acknowledge the similarities; he wrote and edited several books about Wharton, one of them a brief biography. He also wrote biographies of Cardinal Richelieu, Queen Victoria, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and edited the diaries of two 19th-century Manhattan grandees, Philip Hone and George Templeton Strong.

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