An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser’s Fight against Intellectual Censorship and Early Hollywood

Brittany Jolles, University at Albany, State University of New York


On July 14, 1906, a young man named Chester Gillette was arrested for the murder of a young woman, Grace Brown, who had three days earlier drowned on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks of New York State. Gillette’s arrest, and the criminal trial that followed, resulted in a media frenzy that carried to people all across the United States the dramatic story of a young man, who in order to escape a pregnancy and climb the social ladder, plotted and murdered his young girlfriend. One person that was especially affected by this particular story was Theodore Dreiser.