Illinois, the fifth most populous US state, is home to Lake Michigan and the towering city of Chicago – historically the cradle of American Jazz and Blues and a centre of literary culture in the twentieth century. Aside from Chicago the plains of Illinois are rich agricultural land and are typical of rural small town America. The state also possesses a World Heritage Site, the Cahokia Mounds, which preserve a pre-historic Native American civilization.
Saul Bellow is one of the most exalted figures in American literature and he based many of his works in his home town of Chicago, which he evoked as a place of both vitality and dread. A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago records everyday life within the city through a journalistic lens whilst Chicago: City on the Make relates the corruption that has been endemic in the city and the state for many years. Another icon of American literature, Ernest Hemingway, was born and raised in Illinois.
For the edgier, more corrupt side of Chicago the film The Untouchables records the career of mafia boss Al Capone. Small town, rural Illinois is depicted in films like the Academy Award Winning Ordinary People. Inventing the Abbotts featuring a young Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler, and Lucas also grants an insight into the character of Illinois.
Illinois is famed for its Jazz and Blues; producing music legends such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Muddy Waters who all at one time called the city home. Chicago is still home to a vibrant musical scene which harks back to the greats who once played in the concert halls of the city.