Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) was an American author of the naturalist school, known for dealing with the gritty reality of life. Sister Carrie (1900) is his first novel and tells the story of a young country girl who moves to the big city (Chicago) where she starts realizing her own American Dream by first becoming a mistress to powerful men and later as a famous actress.
Dreiser and his wife significantly altered the original manuscript to make it more palatable to the prevailing sensibilities of the day, but even this toned down version caused a minor scandal, and Dreiser had difficulty finding a publisher for it. This was due to the blurred division line between good and bad in the plot. Although Dreiser's moralizing narrator does assert that, despite the fame and the money she has amassed, Carrie will not be able to achieve peace of mind in her life, the apparent lack of poetic justice — the notion that immorality should pay in the end, even if only up to a point — was a concept the reading public were altogether unused to at the time. (summary from wikipedia)