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J. D. Salinger, author, dies at age 91

J.D. Salinger in 1951.
J.D. Salinger in 1951.
Lotte Jacobi Archives

Jerome David (J. D.) Salinger was born January 1, 1919 in New York, New York and passed away due to natural causes in his home in New Hampshire at the age of 91 on January 27, 2010. Perhaps best known for his work The Catcher in the Rye (1951), J.D. Salinger was much like its main protagonist in regards to the spirit of rebellion. His later works were short stories, and he was last published in 1965.

Growing up with one elder sister in New York, Salinger then attempted his collegiate life at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where he stayed for only one semester. He did not enjoy the rigors of the structure of the educational system and this was mirrored in his writings as well. Despite this antipathy, Salinger did attend Columbia University in 1939 and took a class on short story writing. Salinger was drafted into the infantry in 1942 where he was part of the Normandy invasion, but was able to meet with Ernest Hemingway during this time which he expressed was one of the few positive things of the war. Later, in For Esmé - With Love and Squalor, Salinger wrote of an embittered American Soldier.

Salinger's short stories began appearing in 1940 and he was becoming a respected writer. The Catcher in the Rye being his most recognized work, it was his short stories that inspired authors such as Harold Brodkey, John Updike (JD Salinger died exactly one year after John Updike) and Philip Roth. Salinger hated interviews and the notoriety he received for his novel The Catcher in the Rye. After two failed marriages by 1967, Salinger retreated more and more into himself, avoiding publicity, even fleeing reporters when fire broke out at his home in 1992.

Courtesy of The Book Bench at The New Yorker, twelve of the stories Salinger published in the magazine, from 1946 to 1965 can be found online.

Joyce Maynard, Salinger's younger girlfriend at one time, wrote At Home In the World, a 1999 memoir which broke her silence regarding her relationship with Salinger. His daughter, Margaret Ann Salinger, also wrote a memoir Dream Catcher , and Ian Hamilton published In Search Of J. D. Salinger which Salinger himself attempted to stop. One wonders (and hopes), if perhaps there is one more novel to be found, carefully hidden in J. D. Salinger's home, waiting to be discovered.

Comments

  • Anna Elliott 4 years ago

    What a nicely written tribute, Marie! Thanks for this and all your other wonderful articles.

  • Pat Hauldren 4 years ago

    Excellent article. Definitely the passing of an era.

  • Serena Agusto-Cox 4 years ago

    This made me sad.

  • Arleigh 4 years ago

    Thanks for this informative article! I didn't know anything about Salinger, but I noticed that we have In Search of J. D. Salinger at the bookstore. Interesting tidbit that he tried to stop it from being published!