J.D. Salinger: 24 Facts

2010-01-29 09:39

The acclaimed author passed away on 28 January 2010 at the age of 91. We take a look back at his life and works.

1. Why do you know J.D. Salinger? Because of his famous novel The Catcher in The Rye and his fiercely reclusive nature.

2. Happy New Year! Mr and Mrs Salinger welcomed in the new year in 1919 with a push, a "hoo-hoo, hee-hee" and a slap on a pink bum as they welcomed their first son, Jerome David, into the world.

3. J.D. had an older sister named Doris, who passed away in 2001.

4. The Salingers were a well-to-do Jewish family in Manhattan who could afford to send their kids to private school where J.D. excelled in drama. Go figure.

5.  After school, he flitted from one university to another college, never staying anywhere long enough to complete a degree. His education was hampered by his father wanting him to fill his shoes and go into meat-exporting.

6. Despite all these distractions, J.D. never let the pen fall far from the paper. His debut short story, "The Young Folks", was published in Story magazine in March 1940. It was about a couple of misguided kids, a theme J.D. never quite let go of. 

7. His first real girlfriend was Oona O'Neill. Oona left him for Charlie Chaplin. Guess girls do really like guys with a sense of humour.

8. The next year, in 1942, J.D. went to war. This time in his life had a huge impact on him and he suffered from post-war stress, which many think he drew on for his writing. 

9. While moving from Normandy to Germany with the troops, he arranged to meet with the Ernest Hemingway. The two sized each other up, and were each suitably impressed. It's believed that Hemingway had this to say about the young Salinger: "Jesus, he has a helluva talent". Such eloquence.

10. J.D's knowledge of French and German made him a valuable resource during the war.

11. In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was published. This would cement his place in literary history.

12. The book contains some very foul language. It's believed that the word 'goddam' is used 237 times, in addition to many other, cruder swearwords.

13. Catcher's main character, Holden Caulfied, gave a voice to the frustrated youth.

14. Salinger's character has remained relevant over the decades.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays Holden Worther in the 2002 movie "The Good Girl". He sees himself as an incarnation of Holden Caulfield.

15. Salinger has been married three times: Sylvia Welter in 1946 – 1946, Claire Douglas in 1955 - 1967 and Colleen O'Neill in 1988. He and Colleen were still married when he passed away.

16. He was as ambivalent about his religion as he was about his women. At various times in his life J.D. was devoted to Zen Buddhism, Christianity and Scientology.

17. He and Claire Douglas had two children, Margaret and Matthew.

18. His daughter Margaret and an ex-lover, Joyce Maynard, both published books about their time with Salinger.

19. Margaret's brother Matthew has a very different view to hers on their life with their father, and he discredits her memoir.

20. He was on the cover of Time magazine on September 15, 1961.

21. In 1953 Salinger left the hub of New York to settle in Cornish, New Hampshire. He remained there until his dying day.

22. Salinger was so fiercely private that he sued British writer Ian Hamilton for wanting to publish a book called In Search of J.D. Salinger: A Writing Life (1935–65). The book was eventually published in 1988, and Salinger's letters were paraphrased. In 2009 he also sued another writer for using one of his characters from The Catcher in the Rye.

23. The last interview he gave was in 1980.

24. Some of his other notable works are:  Nine Stories (1953), Franny and Zooey (1961)and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963)

The acclaimed author of The Catcher in the Rye passed away on 28 January 2010 at the age of 91. We take a look back at his life and works.

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