"Augustus Thomas introduced me at The Lambs ... and said there had been some controversy as to whether I was a playwright or a farmer. He said he had investigated and learned that in Indiana I was regarded as a playwright and in New York City I was known as a farmer."
George Ade, "How to Live in the Country," 1926
From the Gay Nineties until the early Twentieth Century, George Ade reigned as one of the most popular writers in America, his fan base ranging from the man on the street to such notables as literary critic William Dean Howells and humorist Mark Twain. Ade's genius laid in his ability to delineate true American characters; his use of everyday vernacular blew the dust off of the late Victorian Era and brought a well-needed breath of fresh air into American theatre. He satirized all levels of society without a trace of malice, inviting America to join him in seeing itself, idiosyncrasies intact, and giving us the freedom to laugh at ourselves.
Although he is best known as a writer, George Ade was first and foremost a Hoosier. His wry observations of the Midwest took place in stories that were more often than not, set in Indiana. Born in the small rural town of Kentland, Ade saw the world through the eyes of a country boy. He made no class distinctions in his writings, his city characters were stripped of their urbane veneers and his country characters were steeped in the eccentricities of small town life.
Although 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.