Susanna Guttridge Gamble

Born in 1838, daughter of George Newton Gamble and Susanna Guttridge, she was the real life inspiration for the fictional character of Lillian Semple, the first wife of Frank Cowperwood.

Charles Yerkes and Susanna Guttridge Gamble married on the 22nd of December, 1859 at Philadelphia, Pa. Charles Yerkes was 22 years old and Susanna was 21 years old at the time.

Interestingly, her fictional equivalent is 5 years older than her husband while in reality she was a year younger.

A Theodore Dreiser Encyclopedia lists her birth year as 1832, insisting that she was 5 years older than Charles Yerkes, same as in the trilogy. However, genealogy sources confirm her birth year as 1838, and this is the date listed in Robber Baron: The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes.

According to The Novels of Theodore Dreiser: A Critical Study, by the time Dreiser was writing The Financier, very little was known about Susanna Guttridge Yerkes, so a lot of details about her life and personality in the book are entirely fictional.

Unlike her fictional counterpart, Susanna G. Yerkes sued her husband for divorce after his release from prison (his infidelity became publicly known by this time), and absolutely refused to accept a penny from him. Only in later years she allowed him to provide for their children (two of their six children survived into adulthood), which he did handsomely.

Not much is known about Susanna Yerkes’ later life. She died in Philadelphia on May 21, 1903 and her estate was valued at $10,000.