LIVES | J.D. Salinger, reclusive literary icon, 1919-2010

SalingerJ.D. Salinger.

J.D. Salinger, the reclusive writer whose 1951 novel, “Catcher in the Rye,” is considered one the great American novels, has died. He was 91.

Salinger, born the son of a well-off Jewish father and a Scots-Irish mother on Jan. 1, 1919, was born and raised in Manhattan. His education was a long journey with a number of unimpressive stops: McBurney School on the West Side, Valley Forge, which became the model for Holden Caulfield’s Pencey Prep, and brief stays at both New York University and Ursinus in Pennsylvania. “Slight Rebellion Off Madison” was Salinger’s first short story accepted in The New Yorker. He submitted it in 1941 but the magazine held it for five years, as the Times reports, perhaps because its editors did not think it responsible to support an author with a checkered educational past like Salinger’s. It was a sketch that later evolved into “Catcher.”

After service in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the Army during World War II, Salinger returned to New York and resumed his career, landing several pieces in The New Yorker before “Catcher” was published in July 1951. Salinger followed it with “Nine Stories” in 1953, “Franny and Zooey,” published in 1961, and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction,” in 1963.

Salinger has lived a hermetic existence in Cornish, N.H., since he moved there in 1957. Current and former awkward teenage boys the world over mourn him.

Here’s the Times obituary.

To honor the author, The New Yorker has put all of his short stories on its Web site. You can explore his work here.

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