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Our Mr. Wrenn by Sinclair Lewis

Updated on February 9, 2014

Our Mr. Wrenn--The Early Development of Sinclair Lewis

Our Mr. Wrenn was the second book published by Sinclair Lewis, and was his first attempt at serious work.  The full title of this novel is: Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man.  Only 3,000 copies were printed originally, making this one of the rarest Sinclair Lewis novels.  It was well received critically and began the way to his illustrious career.  This book remains a favorite among antique book collectors today.

Pre-Publication Our Mr. Wrenn for Sale!

I'm so stoked. I just found a first edition, pre publicaton, version of Our Mr. Wrenn. As a rule I don't give prices until I've sold it, but it was a good find, I paid a decent amount, but low enough that I feel great about my chances of selling it for a decent profit.

What a find! This is the first Mr. Wrenn I've even run across, and I'm so stoked! I can't wait to see what price I can get for this great collectible, and worst case scenario, I wouldn't mind if it just found its way into my book shelf ;)

I don't have a link yet, so if anyone stumbles on this page and is interested, contact me through the "Contact Me" button in my bio. I am looking to sell this copy.

Otherwise, the rest of this page is on Lewis and antiques, not just a sales page (although there are spots to buy good first editions), so if you're interested, read on and leave any comments. Enjoy!

Our Mr. Wrenn--the First Serious Novel by Sinclair Lewis

The first step towards respectability for a future American great.

Published in 1914, Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man was the second novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and the first one that bore his name. He considered this his first "serious" novel, and though not quite as masterful as several of his later novels, this work received critical acclaim and touched on many of the themes that would later permeate many of his works.

Our Mr. Wrenn Plot:

The hero/protagonist of this novel is pacifist and overall good guy Mr. William Wrenn. He bumbles along from 1910, when he is 34, to 1913, all the while he dreams of traveling overseas.

Lewis tells us that Wrenn's third floor room abounds with "his friends, books from wander-land(p.4)." Wrenn hates his seven-year old job at the Souvenir and Art Novelty Company, and feels like he is unfairly treated shabbily by his boss, Mortimer R. Guilfogle.

Despite an active imagination, there are limits to how far Mr. Wrenn can escape through watching travel films at the Nickelorion Moving-Picture Show on 14th Street (isn't it great to read books with terms like "moving picture shows" and "aeroplanes?").

Mr. Wrenn receives a small inheritance, which is still enough to allow him to quit his job and go abroad. He begins and ends in New York with a few weeks interlude of "romantic adventure" on a cattle boat where he makes a friend, Morton. The trip does wonder for William Wrenn, who finds within his meek exterior the macho persona of Bill Wrenn, and not only gets into a fist fight, but whips a bully.

Mr. Wrenn then spends weeks in England, where he meets the elegant art student Istra Nash. Back in New York, Mr. Wrenn makes several new friends and moves to a friendlier boarding house where he meets department store saleswoman Nelly Croubel.

Rejuvenated, he throws himself back into the job at The Souvenir and Art Novelty Company, who wants him back because of the positive effect he had on their customers. William Wrenn transcends his pre-adventure persona of the company's ever constant and re-assuring "Our Mr. Wrenn" whose kindly signature on letters to customers firms up the market for the firm's silly trifles.

He rises quickly to make enough money to marry Nelly. At story's end, Mr. Wrenn is happy with his wife, and stay-at-home Nelly is responding to William's intellectual guidance by reading Rudyard Kipling's classic, Kim and finds it difficult, but continues to try for William.

Common themes through out "Our Mr. Wrenn"

1) Loneliness. This theme appears often in Sinclair Lewis works, and is often the epitome of despair.

2) The importance of every man having at least one other male friend.

3) An unsatisfying job that turns out to be satisfying once the character has changed and grown.

4) The mystery of women. How can men ever understand them? (A constant theme we still see today :)

The novel was dedicated to Grace Livingstone Hegger, who was Sinclair Lewis's fiance. Like many of Lewis's novels, Our Mr. Wrenn's basic conflict is the fight between the appeal of the exotic and imagination's ability to filly one's mind with adventures, and the real satisfiactions of the ordinary, which pay dividends that are often harder to see, but sorely missed when gone.

Our Mr. Wrenn Pre-Publication First--Booya!!

Oh Happy Days!

Well, folks, this has been a very good day. Walk into an old book store (and this one was a dandy, several floors, old books stacked in corners--my kind of place :) And I have myself a look around and I find several Sinclair Lewis novels together, including a pre-publication first edition of Our Mr. Wrenn.

There is a stamp, an it's not in immaculate condition, but it seems to be in very good condition, and that's still an amazing find. The price on it was a respectable guess, but low enough that I snatched it up!

I'm going to see about selling this copy, though I'm a big enough fan of Sinclair Lewis that I'm willing to wait for the right price. Found it just in time for the Christmas rush, too! If I sell it, great, if I don't, there's another classic for my book case.

Other Sinclair Lewis Links

Links to Sinclair Lewis sites, as well as novels for sale and other lenses.

Sinclair Lewis Novels

Various re-printed works by Sinclair Lewis of his most popular works.

It Can't Happen Here
It Can't Happen Here

Considered by most to be Sinclair Lewis's last major work of importance, this book is a prophetic warning about Facism taking hold in America.

Arrowsmith (Signet Classics)
Arrowsmith (Signet Classics)

This was the first novel by an American author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. It also won the Pulitzer Prize, which Lewis turned down.

Main Street (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)
Main Street (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)

The classic Sinclair Lewis Novel, Main Street propelled Lewis from unknown to American icon.

Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions)
Babbitt (Dover Thrift Editions)

Babbitt is considered one of the "big three" of Sinclair Lewis's works: along with Arrowsmith and Main Street.

Elmer Gantry
Elmer Gantry

An excellent work that tends to get overshadowed by Lewis's other novels.


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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Would you venture a price for the Harcourt Nobel Prize Edition of Mr. Wrenn? In a Very Good dj with a few small chips and tears. No date of publication beyond the Harper copyright. Have been unable to find a publication date for any title in the Harcourt set. Regards,

      Don Ramsey All Books Considered Kensington MD