|Born||Louis Stanton Auchincloss|
27 September 1917
Lawrence, New York, United States
|Died||26 January 2010 (aged 92)|
Manhattan, New York, United States
|Education||St. Bernard's School|
|Alma mater||Yale University|
University of Virginia
|Notable awards||National Medal of Arts (2005)|
|Relatives||Nina Auchincloss Straight (cousin)|
Louis Stanton Auchincloss (/ˈɔːkɪŋklɒs/; September 27, 1917 – January 26, 2010) was an American lawyer, novelist, historian, and essayist. He is best known as a novelist who parlayed his experiences into books exploring the experiences and psychology of American polite society and old money. His dry, ironic works of fiction continue the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton. He wrote his novels initially under the name Andrew Lee, the name of an ancestor who cursed any descendant who drank or smoked.
Born in Lawrence, New York, Auchincloss was the son of Priscilla Dixon (née Stanton) and Joseph Howland Auchincloss. His brother was Howland Auchincloss and 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 St. Bernard's School, 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 1942 to 1945 in the United States Navy during World War II, which might have inspired his 1947 novel The Indifferent Children). He applied to join the Naval Reserve as an intelligence specialist on December 4, 1940 and was appointed as a lieutenant on December 1, 1942.
After taking a break to pursue full-time writing, Auchincloss returned to working as a lawyer, first 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 books are the multi-generational sagas The House of Five Talents (1960), Portrait in Brownstone (1962), and East Side Story (2004). The Rector of Justin (1964) is the tale of a renowned headmaster of a prep school like the one he attended, Groton School, trying to deal with changing times.
In the early 1980s, Auchincloss produced three novels which were not centered on the New York he knew so well, i.e. The Cat and the King, set in Louis XIV's Versailles, Watchfires, concerned with the American Civil War, and Exit Lady Masham, set in Queen Anne's England. Auchincloss would remain close to New York again, however, in his later fiction writing.
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."
In 1957, Auchincloss married Adele Burden Lawrence (1931–1991), the daughter of Florence Irvin (née Burden) Lawrence and Blake Leigh Lawrence. Her grandfather was prominent industrialist James A. Burden Jr. and her great-grandmother was Vanderbilt heiress Emily Thorn (née Vanderbilt) Sloane White. Adele was an artist, environmentalist and later became a deputy administrator of the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. Together they had three children:
He was president and chairman of the Museum of the City of New York and chairman of the City Hall Restoration Committee and was a member of the Century Association and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where he served as president.
On January 26, 2010, Auchincloss died from complications of a stroke at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
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. In addition, he was the recipient of the following awards and accolades:
Auchincloss wrote more than 60 books.
Short story collections
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). Composer Paul Reif adapted Portrait in Brownstone into an opera upon which he was working at the time of his death; it has remained unperformed.