Harry Sinclair Lewis was born on February 7, 1885 in Minnesota. He was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. A lonely child, Lewis immersed himself in reading and diary writing. While studying at Yale University and living in writer Upton Sinclair's communal house, he wrote for Yale Literary Magazine and helped to build the Panama Canal. After graduating from Yale in 1908, Lewis began writing fiction, publishing 22 novels by the end of his career. His early works, while often praised by literary critics, did not reach popularity but with Main Street (1920), Babbitt (1922), Arrowsmith (1925), Elmer Gantry (1927), and Dodsworth (1929), Sinclair Lewis achieved fame as a writer. His style of choice was satire; he explored American small-town life, conformity, hypocrisy, and materialism. Sinclair Lewis was married and divorced twice. As his career wound down, he spent his later life in Europe and died in Rome on January 10, 1951.
Michael Meyer first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps, where he lived for two years before moving to Beijing. A Minnesota native, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Berkeley with degrees in education. He was also Blakemore Fellow at Tsinghua University, concentrating on Beijing's urban planning and architecture. A Lowell Thomas Award winner for travel writing, Meyer has published stories in Time, Smithsonian, the New York Times Book Review, the Financial Times, Reader's Digest, the Asian Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, among others. In China, he has represented the National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations, training China's UNESCO World Heritage Site managers in preservation practices. The Last Days of Old Beijing is his first book. He lives in New York.