Lardner, Ring

Lardner, Ring

(Ringgold Wilmer Lardner), 1885–1933, American humorist and short-story writer, b. Niles, Mich. He was a sports reporter in Chicago, St. Louis, and Boston from 1907 to 1919. His first collection of short stories, You Know Me, Al (1916) revealed his talent for the racy sports idiom he made famous. Among his other early volumes of short stories are Gullible's Travels (1917) and Treat 'Em Rough (1918). With the publication of How to Write Short Stories (with Samples) (1924), Lardner's reputation as a satirist was established. Usually cynical and pessimistic, his stories are peopled by ordinary characters—baseball players, stenographers, barbers—who are stunningly revealed, often through their own conversation, as being stupid, dull, and vicious. His later story collections include What of It? (1925) and First and Last (1934). With George S. Kaufman he collaborated on the comedy June Moon (produced 1929).


See his Best Short Stories (1938, repr. 1957); his autobiography, The Story of a Wonder Man (1927, repr. 1975); biographies by D. Elder (1956) and J. Yardley (1984); studies by M. Geismar (1972) and E. Evans (1980); bibliography by M. J. Bruccoli and R. Layman (1976).

Lardner, (Ringgold Wilmer) Ring

(1885–1933) journalist, writer; born in Niles, Mich. He began as a sportswriter in 1905, and worked for several papers in Indiana, Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis. While a sportswriter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune (1913–19), he wrote a series of baseball short stories for the Saturday Evening Post, collected in a volume titled You Know Me Al: A Busher's Letters (1914). These satirical stories, featuring the letters of an egotistical Chicago White Sox pitcher, Jack Keefe, were praised by Virginia Woolf among many others. Lardner wrote two more books featuring Keefe—Treat 'Em Rough (1918) and The Real Dope (1919)—and several other collections of stories featuring characters from Broadway, sports, and the workaday world, including Gullible's Travels (1917) and How to Write Short Stories (1924). He also collaborated with George M. Cohan and George S. Kaufman on plays. One of America's great sardonic humorists, his use of the American vernacular—especially in a story like "Hair Cut" (1929)—has rarely been surpassed.