Tarkington’s series of Edgar shorts did enjoy a measure of success and notoriety. For one, the films featured child star Lucille Ricksen who, by the age of fourteen, had already been used up and spit out by the Hollywood machine–promoted as an adult leading lady, literally dead from exhaustion. I recently ran across an interesting visual history of the actress, which includes a photo of the girl on the stoop of Tarkington’s Indianapolis home, hoping for a visit with the vacationing author.
One interesting and odd item in the archives of the Indiana Historical Society is a copy of Grooms & Smith’s Indianapolis Directory, City Guide, and Business Mirror, or Indianapolis as it is in 1855, “the first full-blown and inclusive directory of businesses and individuals in the rapidly growing Indiana capital.” The volume carries a lengthy inscription by Booth Tarkington, made nearly eighty years later.
Though a great deal of Tarkington’s appeal for me has been the maturity and insight with which he approaches adults topics and scenarios (Ambersons, of course, Alice Adams and Kate Fennigate, Rumbin Galleries and The Plutocrat), my joy in Tarkington has always been rooted in the sheer boyishness of his younger heroes: Penrod and Sam, Herman and Verman, little Orvie, Willie Baxter.