George Ade Poster


Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (5)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (2)

Born in Kentland, Indiana, USA
Died in Brook, Indiana, USA  (heart attack)

Mini Bio (1)

American writer, newspaper columnist, and playwright George Ade was first and foremost a self described Hoosier. Ade was born in Kentland, Indiana, one of seven children raised by John and Adaline Ade. While attending Purdue University, he met and started a lifelong friendship with cartoonist and Sigma Chi brother John T. McCutcheon and worked as a reporter for the Lafayette Call. In 1890, Ade was hired on by the Chicago Morning News (later known as the Chicago Record), where McCutcheon was working. He wrote the column, Stories of the Streets and of the Town. In the column, which McCutcheon illustrated, Ade illustrated Chicago-life. It featured characters like Artie, an office boy, Doc Horne, a gentlemanly liar, and Pink Marsh, a black shoeshine boy. Ade's well-known "Fables in Slang" was introduced in the popular column.

Ade's literary reputation rests upon his achievements as a great humorist of American character during an important era in American history. The 1890's marked the first large migration from the countryside to burgeoning cities like Chicago, where, in fact, Ade produced his best fiction. He was a practicing realist during the Age of (William Dean) Howells and a local colorist of Chicago and the Midwest. His work constitutes a vast comedy of Midwestern manners and, indeed, a comedy of late 19th century American manners.

Ade's fiction dealt consistently with the "little man," the common, undistinguished, average American, usually a farmer or lower middle class citizen (he sometimes skewered women too, especially women with laughable social pretensions).

Ade's followed in the footsteps of his idol Mark Twain by making expert use of the American language. In his unique "Fables in Slang," (1899) which purveyed not so much slang as the American colloquial vernacular, Ade pursued an effectively genial satire notable for its scrupulous objectivity. Ade's regular practice in the best fables is to present a little drama incorporating concrete, specific evidence with which he implicitly indicts the object of his satire-- always a type (e.g., the social climber). The fable's actual moral is nearly always implicit, though he liked to tack on a mock, often ironic moral (e.g., "Industry and perseverance bring a sure reward").

As a moralist who does not overtly moralize, who is all too aware of the ironies of what in his day was the modern world, George Ade was perhaps our first modern American humorist, paving the way for people such as Will Rogers to follow. The United States, in Ade's lifetime, underwent a great population shift and transfer from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Many felt the nation suffered the even more agonizing process of shifting values toward philistinism, greed, and dishonesty. Ade's prevalent practice is to record the pragmatic efforts of the little man to get along in such a world.

Ade was a playwright (see "Other Works") as well as an author, penning such stage works as Artie, The Sultan of Sulu (a musical comedy), The College Widow, The Fair Co-ed, and "The County Chairman." He wrote the first American play about football.

After twelve years in Chicago, he built a home near the town of Brook, Indiana (Newton County). It soon became known for hosting a campaign stop in 1908 by William Howard Taft, a rally for Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party in 1912, and a homecoming for returning soldiers and sailors in 1919.

George Ade is one of the American writers whose publications made him rich. When land values were inflated about the time of World War I, Ade was a millionaire. The Ross-Ade football stadium at Purdue University was built with his (and David E. Ross's) financial support. He also generously supported his college fraternity, Sigma Chi, leading a fund-raising campaign to endow the Sigma Chi mother house at the site of the fraternity's original establishment at Miami University. Ade is also famous among Sigma Chis as the author of The Sigma Chi Creed, written in 1929, one of the central documents of the fraternity's philosophies.

While Ade's writings fell out of public favor as America struggled through the Great Depression and the onslaught of World War II, his legacy lives on. Ade populated his writings with comedic characters lifted from the streets and front porches of small Midwestern towns and peppered the language with witty slang; characters and situations that can still be found in movies and television sitcoms. Ade's comedic style is just as popular today as it was when he introduced it over a hundred years ago. While Ade was never considered a high-brow literary writer or a fashionably caustic social critic, he succeeded in what he had set out to do, he made America laugh.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jack Backstreet

Trivia (5)

Writer Harry Leon Wilson (most famous for penning "Ruggles of Red Gap") dedicated his novel "Merton of the Movies" to him.
Unlike his literary idol Mark Twain, Ade was particularly financially savvy. He became a millionaire in his 40s and an enthusiastic philanthropist, bestowing numerous Indiana-based educational, medical and fraternal endowments.
Buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Kentland, IN.
Purdue University, Class of 1887. Member: Sigma Chi fraternity.
As of 2014 the principal collection of Ade's personal papers, correspondence, works, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, miscellaneous pictorial items and memorabilia documenting his literary and personal life are maintained as George Ade Papers by The Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections, 60 West Walton St., Chicago, IL 60610-7324. USA. Phone: 312-255-3506. Fax: 312-255-3646.

Personal Quotes (4)

To ensure peace of mind ignore the rules and regulations.
A good folly is worth what you pay for it.
[on discipline] Draw your salary before spending it.
[on writing the story for Our Leading Citizen (1922)] It was a labor of love with me. I was glad to do it for my old friend [Tom Meighan]. I hope he will continue to like me after the picture is shown.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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