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E. L. Doctorow

1931-

American novelist

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E. L. Doctorow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
E. L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow, (photograph by Mark Sobczak)
Born January 6, 1931 (age 79)
Bronx, New York
Occupation writer, editor, professor
Nationality American
Alma mater Kenyon College, Columbia University
Period 1960 - present
Notablework(s) The Book of Daniel, Ragtime,World's Fair, Billy Bathgate, The March, Homer & Langley
Spouse(s) Helen Setzer

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (born January 6, 1931, New York, New York) is an American author.

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Edgar Lawrence ("E.L.") Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent. He attended city public grade schools and the Bronx High School of Science where, surrounded by mathematically gifted children, he fled to the office of the school literary magazine, Dynamo, where he published his first literary effort, The Beetle, which he describes as ”a tale of etymological self-defamation inspired by my reading of Kafka.”

Doctorow attended Kenyon College, where he studied with the poet and New Critic, John Crowe Ransom, acted in college theater productions and majored in Philosophy. After graduating with Honors in 1952 he did a year of graduate work in English Drama at Columbia University before being drafted into the army. He served with the Army of Occupation in Germany in 1954-55 as a corporal in the signal corps.

He returned to New York after his military service and took a job as a reader for a motion picture company where he said he had to read so many Westerns that he was inspired to write what became his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times. He began the work as a parody of the Western genre, but the piece evolved into a novel that asserted itself as a serious reclamation of the genre before he was through. It was published to positive reviews in 1960.

Doctorow had married a fellow Columbia drama student, Helen Setzer, while in Germany and by the time he had moved on from his reader’s job in 1960 to become an editor at the New American Library, (NAL) a mass market paperback publisher, he was the father of three children. To support his family he would spend nine years as a book editor, first at NAL working with such authors as Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand, and then, in 1964 as Editor-in-chief at The Dial Press, publishing work by James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines and William Kennedy, among others.

In 1969 Doctorow left publishing in order to write, and accepted a position as Visiting Writer at the University of California, Irvine, where he completed The Book of Daniel, a freely fictionalized consideration of the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for allegedly giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Published in 1971 it was widely acclaimed, called a “masterpiece” by The Guardian, and it launched Doctorow into "the first rank of American writers" according to the New York Times.[1]

Doctorow’s next book, written in his home in New Rochelle, New York, was Ragtime(1975), since accounted one of the hundred best novels of the 20th century by theModern Library Editorial Board.[2]

Doctorow’s subsequent work includes the award winning novels World's Fair (1985),Billy Bathgate (1989) and The March (2005); two volumes of short fiction, Lives of the Poets I (1984) and Sweetland Stories (2004); and two volumes of selected essays,Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution (1993) and Creationists (2006). He is published in over thirty languages.

He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Yale School of Drama, the University of Utah and Princeton University. He is currently Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of English and American Letters at New York University.

Doctorow has donated his papers to the Fales Library of New York University. He is the recipient of the National Humanities Medal conferred at the White House in 1998.[3]


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