|Born||Ringgold Wilmer Lardner
March 6, 1885
Niles, Michigan, USA
|Died||September 25, 1933
East Hampton, New York, USA
Personal life 
Born in Niles, Michigan, Ring Lardner was the son of wealthy parents Henry and Lena Phillips Lardner. He was the youngest of nine children. Lardner's name came from a cousin of the same name. The cousin, in turn had been named by Lardner's uncle, Rear Admiral James L. Lardner, who had decided to name his son after a friend, Rear Admiral Cadwalader Ringgold, who was from a distinguished military family. Lardner never liked his given name and shortened it, naming one of his sons Ring Jr.
Lardner was married to Ellis Abbott of Goshen, Indiana in 1911. They had four sons, John, James, Ring Jr., and David. John was a newspaperman, sports columnist and magazine writer. James, also a newspaperman, was killed in the Spanish Civil War fighting with the International Brigades. Ring Lardner, Jr. was a screenwriter who was blacklisted after the Second World War as one of the Hollywood Ten, screenwriters who were incarcerated for contempt of Congress after refusing to answer questions posed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He won two Academy Awards for his screenplays—one before his imprisonment and blacklisting (for Woman of the Year in 1942), and one after (for M*A*S*H in 1970). His book, The Lardners, My Family Remembered (ISBN 0-06-012517-9), is a reliable source of Lardner information. David worked for The New Yorker as a general reporter and war correspondent before he was killed by a landmine near Aachen, Germany in October 1944, less than one month after his arrival to the European Theater of war. Lardner was a grand uncle to 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner George Lardner, Jr., a journalist at The Washington Post since 1963.
Writing career 
In 1913, Lardner provided lyrics for "That Old Quartet" for composer Nathaniel D. Mann.
In 1916, Lardner published his first successful book, You Know Me Al, an epistolary novel written in the form of letters by "Jack Keefe", a bush-league baseball player, to a friend back home. The letters made heavy use of the fictional author's idiosyncratic vernacular. It had initially been published as six separate but interrelated short stories in The Saturday Evening Post, leading some to classify the book as a collection of stories; others, as a novel. Like most of Lardner's stories, You Know Me Al employed satire, in this case to show the stupidity and avarice of a certain type of athlete. "Ring Lardner thought of himself as primarily a sports columnist whose stuff wasn't destined to last, and he held to that absurd belief even after his first masterpiece, You Know Me Al, was published in 1916 and earned the awed appreciation of Virginia Woolf, among other very serious, unfunny people", wrote Andrew Ferguson, who named it, in a Wall Street Journal article, one of the top five pieces of American humor writing.
Lardner went on to write such well-known stories as "Haircut", "Some Like Them Cold", "The Golden Honeymoon", "Alibi Ike", and "A Day with Conrad Green". He also continued to write follow-up stories to You Know Me Al, with the hero of that book, the headstrong but gullible Jack Keefe, experiencing various ups and downs in his major league career and in his personal life. Private Keefe's World War I letters home to his friend Al were collected in Treat 'Em Rough.
Lardner also had a lifelong fascination with the theatre, although his only success was June Moon, a comedy co-written with Broadway veteran George S. Kaufman. He did write a series of brief nonsense plays which poked fun at the conventions of the theatre using zany, offbeat humor and outrageous, impossible stage directions, such as "The curtain is lowered for seven days to denote the lapse of a week."
Lardner was a close friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other writers of the Jazz Age. He was published by Maxwell Perkins, who also served as Fitzgerald's editor. To create his first book of short stories Lardner had to get copies from the magazines he'd sold them to—he held his own short stories in light regard and did not save copies.
He was in some respects the model for the tragic character Abe North in Fitzgerald's last completed novel, Tender Is the Night. With the exception of You Know Me Al, which was initially written and published as six separate stories, Lardner never wrote a novel, but is considered by many to be one of America's best writers of the short story.
Lardner was also a well-known sports columnist, who began his career as a teenager with the South Bend Tribune. Soon after, he took a position with the rival South Bend Times, the first of many professional switches. In 1907, Lardner moved to Chicago, where he joined the Inter-Ocean, considered the worst newspaper in the city. Within the space of a year, he moved up to the Chicago Examiner, then to the Tribune. Two years later, Lardner was in St. Louis, writing the humorous baseball column "Pullman Pastimes" for Taylor Spink and the Sporting News; some of this work was the genesis for You Know Me Al. Within three months, he was an employee of the Boston American.
Lardner returned to the Chicago Tribune in 1913, which became the home paper for his syndicated "In the Wake of the News" column (started by Hugh Keough, who died in 1912); it appeared in more than 100 newspapers, and still runs in the Tribune.
Sarah Bembrey has written about a singular event in Lardner's sportswriting experience: "In 1919 something happened that changed his way of reporting about sports and changed his love for baseball. This was the Black Sox scandal when the Chicago White Sox sold out the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Ring was exceptionally close to the White Sox and felt he was betrayed by the team. After the scandal, Ring always wrote about sports as if there were some kink to the outcome."
Walter Allen stated "It is like Lardner perfectly feeds a specific American trait into every character of every story he ever wrote."
In the 1988 movie about the Black Sox, Eight Men Out, writer-director John Sayles (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lardner) portrayed Lardner as one of the clear-eyed observers who were not taken in by the conspiracy. In one scene, Sayles strolls through the White Sox train, singing a parody of the song "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", changed to "I'm Forever Throwing Ballgames".
Lardner's last baseball writing was Lose with a Smile in 1933.
Lardner influenced Ernest Hemingway, who sometimes wrote articles for his high school newspaper under the pseudonym Ring Lardner, Jr. The two met in December, 1928 thanks to Max Perkins but did not become friends.
Selected bibliography 
- Bib Ballads (1915)
- You Know Me Al (1916)
- Champion (1916)
- Gullible's Travels (1917)
- Treat 'Em Rough (1918)
- The Big Town (1921; basis of 1948 movie So This Is New York)
- How to Write Short Stories (1924)
- Haircut (1925)
- Round Up (1929)
- "Ring Lardner Jr., blacklisted Oscar winner, dies at age 85" Katherine Roth, Chicago Sun-Times 02-11-2000 The Literature Network http://www.online-literature.com/article/ring-lardner/19084/
- "General Information: History of The Post: "For Feature Writing, by George Lardner Jr. for his unflinching examination of his daughter's murder by a violent man who had slipped through the criminal justice system" http://www.washpost.com/gen_info/history/prizes.shtml
- , Andrew Ferguson, "Five Best: Some humor doesn't age well, but these American classics remain funny beyond compare, says writer Andrew Ferguson", review article in The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2006, page P8, accessed (on a free part of the newspaper's Web site) December 3, 2006[dead link]
- Gelfant, Blanche H. (and Lawrence Graver) (2004) The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-century American Short Story, Columbia University Press (See Ring Lardner p.322)
- The Lardner Dynasty - Ring
- Eight Men Out Movie Review, DVD Release - Filmcritic.com
- Friends at www.tridget.com
- "The Only Thing That Counts: The Ernest Hemingway - Maxwell Perkins Correspondence," Matthew J. Bruccoli, Scribner, 1996.
- Lardnermania - An Appreciation of Ring W. Lardner and his Work
- Works by or about Ring Lardner in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Works by Ring Lardner at Project Gutenberg
- Baseball Hall of Fame - Spink Award recipient
- Works at Google Book Search:
- Ring Lardner Papers at the Newberry Library