Benjamin Franklin Norris, Jr. (March 5, 1870 – October 25, 1902) was an American journalist and sometime novelist during the Progressive Era, generally using the naturalist style of fiction. His notable works include McTeague (1899), The Octopus: A Story of California (1901), and The Pit (1903).
Frank Norris was born in Chicago, Illinois, during 1870. His father, Benjamin, was a Chicago businessman and his mother, Gertrude Glorvina Doggett, had a stage career. During 1884 the family relocated to San Francisco where Benjamin obtained work concerning real estate. During 1887, after the death of his brother and a brief stay in London, young Norris went to Académie Julian in Paris where he studied painting for two years and was exposed to the naturalist novels of Émile Zola. Between 1890 and 1894 he attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he learned the ideas of human evolution of Darwin and Spencer that are represented in his later writings. His first stories were published in the undergraduate magazine at Berkeley and in the San Francisco Wave. After his parents' divorce he went east and spent a year in the English Department of Harvard University. There he became acquainted with Lewis E. Gates, who encouraged his writing. He worked as a news correspondent in South Africa (1895–96) for the San Francisco Chronicle, and then as editorial assistant for the newspaper San Francisco Wave (1896–97). He worked for McClure's Magazine as a war correspondent in Cuba during the Spanish–American War of 1898. He joined the New York City publishing business of Doubleday & Page during 1899.
During his time at the University of California, Berkeley, Norris was a brother of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta and was an originator of the Skull & Keys society. Because of his involvement with a prank during the Class Day Exercises during 1893, the annual alumni dinner held by each Phi Gamma Delta chapter still bears his name. During 1900 Frank Norris married Jeanette Black. They had a child during 1901. Norris died on October 25, 1902, of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix in San Francisco. This left The Epic of the Wheat trilogy unfinished. He was only 32. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California...
Quotes by Frank Norris
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