Doctorow, E.L., 1931-

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American author.

From the description of Typewritten letter signed, dated New York, N.Y., 8 September 1993, to Joan Peyser, 1993 Sept. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270992398

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931. He grew up on Eastburn Avenue in the Bronx and attended the Bronx High School of Science, where he showed an early interest in the arts. Doctorow graduated with honors from Kenyon College in 1952, receiving a B.A in Philosophy, before continuing with a year of graduate work at Columbia University. He married Helen Seltser during a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1953-55); they had three children: Jenny, Caroline, and Richard.

After a brief stint as a reservations clerk at LaGuardia Airport, Doctorow worked primarily in arts-related fields. He began as a staff reader for Columbia Pictures and CBS Television (1956-1959), writing synopses and reader's reports for books being considered as potential movie concepts. During this time, he experimented with multiple literary genres, producing a collection of short fiction, plays, and television scripts; however, it was his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times (1960), that had the most success, and was later adapted into a movie starring Henry Fonda.

From 1959-1964, Doctorow served as senior editor for the New American Library, and from 1964-1969 as the editor in chief of Dial Press. During this time he wrote his second novel, Big As Life (1966), a satire set in a future New York. The result was less successful. Doctorow admits that it was "a rather weak book," and it has not been reissued since its original publication.

Since 1969, Doctorow has devoted his time to writing and teaching. He has been associated with several colleges and universities, including the University of California, Irvine; Sarah Lawrence College; Yale University Drama School; and Princeton University; however, he has made his permanent home at New York University where he holds the Glucksman Chair in American Letters. He is a member of P.E.N American Center, and was appointed as a member to the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984.

Doctorow's third novel, The Book of Daniel (1971), won critical acclaim and a nomination for a National Book Award. The Book of Daniel is a fictionalized account of the Rosenberg children, whose lives are haunted by the Atom Spy Trials of their parents and by the general paranoia introduced into American culture during the McCarthy era. The book was adapted into a movie in 1983 directed by Sidney Lumet.

Ragtime (1975), written while Doctorow was a Guggenheim fellow and a Creative Artists Service fellow, was one of the most highly anticipated and critically acclaimed novels of 1976, as well as one of the fastest selling and most popular American books of all time. Ragtime uses historical figures as characters (Houdini, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, and many others), but it interweaves these personalities with a fictional narrative in order to expose a more ominous political and cultural threat that is always central to Doctorow's general critique of American life. Ragtime received the first National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1976 and the Arts and Letters Award given by the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters. It was later adapted into both a movie directed by Robert Altman and a Broadway musical.

Three of Doctorow's subsequent novels are set in the 1930s, though each has its own perspective: Loon Lake (1980) is the story of a young man who is cast adrift during the Depression years; World's Fair (1986) is a memoir of a 1930s New York City boyhood; and Billy Bathgate (1989) explores the underground of gangsterism and crime. Loon Lake was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was nominated for the National Book Award; World's Fair was the winner of the 1986 National Book Award; Billy Bathgate was the winner of the 1990 P.E.N./Faulkner Award and was adapted into a movie by Tom Stoppard directed by Robert Benton. Doctorow's other projects include two additional novels, The Waterworks (1994) and City of God (2000), a play, Drinks Before Dinner (1979) that was first produced by Joseph Papp under the direction of Mike Nichols, and a collection of short fiction, Lives of the Poets (1984). Additionally, Doctorow has written a number of non-fiction pieces for various periodicals, including The New York Times, The Nation, Newsday, Playboy, Harper's, and The New Yorker . In 1993, Doctorow published a collection of these non-fiction pieces in Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution .

Sources:

Yardley, Jonathan, "Mr. Ragtime," The Miami Herald, 21 December 1975. Wutz, Michael, "An Interview with E.L. Doctorow," Weber Studies 11 (Winter, 1994). Baker, John F., "PW Interviews: E.L. Doctorow," Publisher's Weekly 207 (30 June 1975).

From the guide to the E. L. Doctorow Papers, 1931-2002, (© 2009 Fales Library and Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1991-1995. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Daiches, David, 1912-2005. Hopwood Awards Collection, 1930- University of Michigan
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1961-1988. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Doctorow, E. L., 1931-. Poetry reading and discussion at Sarah Lawrence College [sound recording] / by E. L. Doctorow. Sarah Lawrence College, Esther Raushenbush Library
referencedIn The Review of Contemporary Fiction/Dalkey Archive Press : records, 1980-1990 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Weller, Michael, 1942-. Ragtime : screenplay / by Michael Weller. Columbia College Chicago
referencedIn Harper's Magazine Records, 1847-1983, (bulk 1940-1983) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
creatorOf Flaherty, Stephen. Ragtime: typescript, 1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Delbanco, Nicholas. Nicholas Delbanco papers, 1956-<2010>, bulk 1966-2000. University of Michigan
referencedIn Review of Contemporary Fiction / Dalkey Archive Press : records, 1980-1988. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Tom Stoppard Papers TXRC94-A2., 1939-2000, (bulk 1970-2000) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Weller, Michael, 1942-. Ragtime : typescript, 1980 Jan. / screenplay by Michael Weller from the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Doctorow, E. L., 1931-. Ragtime : typescript, 1975 : a novel / by E.L. Doctorow. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1976-1987. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Doctorow, E. L., 1931-. Poetry reading at Sarah Lawrence College [sound recording] / by E. L. Doctorow. Sarah Lawrence College, Esther Raushenbush Library
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library) poetry readings, 1931- (ongoing). Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1991-1992. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn American Review records, 1967-1977 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Feiffer, Jules. Jules Feiffer papers, 1919-1995 (bulk 1950-1990). Library of Congress
referencedIn Flaherty, Stephen. Ragtime : the musical / music by Stephen Flaherty ; lyrics by Lynn Ahrens ; book by Terrence McNally ; based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, 2009. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Sipper, Ralph B. Letters, 1973-1996. Indiana University
referencedIn New York Shakespeare Festival Records. Series IV: Production Materials, 1958-1992 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Burack, A. S. (Abraham Saul), 1908-. Abraham Burack collection, 1922-1997. Boston University, School of Medical
creatorOf Doctorow, E. L., 1931-. 55th annual spring commencement at Sarah Lawrence College [sound recording] / with remarks by E. L. Doctorow. Sarah Lawrence College, Esther Raushenbush Library
referencedIn Davis, Bertram Hylton. Letters, 1977-1978. Florida State University
referencedIn Hammond, Robert M. (Robert Morris), 1920-. Hammond film script collection, 1935-1996. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Abrams, Sam,. Sam Abrams papers 1980-1994 RIT Library, Wallace Library
creatorOf Tevis, Walter S. Papers, 1945-1985. Indiana University
creatorOf E. L. Doctorow Papers, 1931-2002 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Hammond Film Script Collection, ca. 1935-1996 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Harper's magazine records, 1847-1983 (bulk 1940-1983). Library of Congress
creatorOf Doctorow, E. L., 1931-. Typewritten letter signed, dated New York, N.Y., 8 September 1993, to Joan Peyser, 1993 Sept. 8. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn New York Times Company records. A.M. Rosenthal papers, 1955-1994, 1967-1986 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Stoppard, Tom. Papers, 1939-2000 (bulk 1970-2000). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Jules Feiffer Papers, 1919-1995, (bulk 1950-1990) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
referencedIn Chandler Brossard Papers, 1951-2002 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Cheuse, Alan. Papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript], 1983-1991. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Abrams, Sam, person
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associatedWith Bosworth, Beth, 1957- person
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correspondedWith Burack, A. S. (Abraham Saul), 1908- person
associatedWith Calfo, Adrianne. person
associatedWith Cavafy, C. P. (Constantine P.), 1863-1933 person
associatedWith Cheuse, Alan. person
associatedWith Coutinho, J. person
correspondedWith Davis, Bertram Hylton. person
associatedWith Delbanco, Nicholas. person
correspondedWith Feiffer, Jules. person
correspondedWith Feiffer, Jules. person
associatedWith Flaherty, Stephen. person
associatedWith Flaubert, Gustave, 1821-1880 person
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associatedWith Hammond, Robert M. (Robert Morris), 1920- person
associatedWith Harper's Magazine corporateBody
associatedWith Henslee, Helen. person
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associatedWith Oxenhorn, Harvey. person
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associatedWith Peyser, Joan, person
associatedWith Rosenthal, A. M. (Abraham Michael), 1922-2006 person
associatedWith Roses, Daniel F. person
associatedWith Sarah Lawrence College. corporateBody
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associatedWith Stoppard, Tom person
associatedWith Stoppard, Tom. person
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associatedWith Sukenick, Ronald. person
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associatedWith von der Lippe, Angela. person
associatedWith Weller, Michael, 1942- person
associatedWith Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library). corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Poetry
Authors and publishers--United States
American fiction--20th century
American drama--20th century
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Birth 1931-01-06

Americans

English

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