James A. Michener - Writers, Birthday and Childhood

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James A. Michener's Personal Details

James A Michener was a Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist and short story writer

InformationDetail
BirthdayFebruary 3, 1907
Died onOctober 16, 1997
NationalityAmerican
FamousPhilanthropists, Democrats, Writers, Novelists
IdeologiesDemocrats
SpousesMari Yoriko Sabusawa (m. 1955–1994), Patti Koon (m. 1935), Vange Nord (m. 1948–1955)
Known asJames A. Michener
Universities
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Northern Colorado
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Michener Center for Writers
Birth PlaceDoylestown
GenderMale
Sun SignAquarius
Born inDoylestown
Died at Age90

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James A. Michener's photo

Who is James A. Michener?

James Michener was an acclaimed short story writer and author of his time who was known for his epic and detailed works which were later classified as fictional documentaries. What made him distinct from other writers of his generation was his minute detailing and extensive analysis of everything, right from the geology and flora of the place to the disposition and temperament of people living in it. Coming up with accurate and detailed description of every small and minute detail was the hallmark sign of Michener’s novels. For the same, he often stayed long at a particular country to grasp the local geology, customs and behaviour of the people living in it. In his lifetime, he travelled widely and used his travel experiences to write novels and short stories. Over the years, he came up with 40 books, including texts of five arts books. His work has been translated in every major language of the world and is reported to have recorded sales of 75 million copies worldwide. To know more about his life, childhood, works and timeline, read through the following lines.

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Childhood & Early Life

Not much is known of James Albert Michener’s early life and his childhood except for the fact that he was raised by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener as a Quaker in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is reported to have been born on February 3, 1907.

Young Michener gained his early education from Doylestown High School from where he graduated in 1925. Thereafter, he enrolled at the Swarthmore College where he indulged in playing basketball.

At the college, he was part of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He studied English and psychology at the college. Graduating with the highest honors from the college summa cum laude in 1929, he moved to Europe and studied there for a couple of years.

Career

His first ever vocation was as a high school English teacher at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He thereafter moved to George School in Newtown Pennsylvania in 1933 and continued with the same profile for three years until 1936.

In 1936, he enrolled at the Colorado State Teachers College to earn his master’s degree. Upon completing his degree, he taught at the university for some time before taking up a teaching position at Harvard for a year from 1939 to 1940. He served as an Assistant Visiting Professor of History at the Harvard

In 1940, he left Harvard to join Macmillan Publishers for the profile of social studies education editor. He could not continue in the position for long as he was called for military service during World War II and was drafted into the United States Navy as a lieutenant.

While serving the US Navy, he was entrusted with the profile of a naval historian that allowed him to travel across the South Pacific Ocean. It were these travels that later formed the base and setting for his novel, ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.

The novel, ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ was published in 1947 to much acceptance and critical acclaim. It later served as the base for the Broadway and film musical, ‘South Pacific’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The following year, the book was felicitated with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Following the grand success of his debut novel, he came out with his second venture, ‘The Fires of Spring’ in 1949, which was an autobiographical work. It was followed by three novels, ‘The Return to Paradise’, ‘The Bridges of Toko-ri’ and ‘Sayonara’.

It was the 1959 released novel, ‘Hawaii’ that gained him instant stardom and made him a best-selling author. The novel was the first of the many more to follow multi-generational historical novels that he became known for.

Meanwhile, apart from writing novels, he tried his hand at television writing but with limited success. It was during these trials that he was approached by television producer Bob Mann who encouraged him to write weekly anthology series of ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.

Unable to secure the television rights of ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ from Rodgers and Hammerstein, he instead concentrated on a different television series by the name, ‘Adventures in Paradise’.

Towards the end of the 1950s he started working as a roving editor for Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, a position in which he served until the 1970s. His 1965 released novel, ‘The Source’ was yet again well received and included his trademark speciality of extensive detailing and research.

Other than writing, he devoted a lot of his time to public service as well. In 1960, he served as the chairman of the Bucks County committee which elected John F Kennedy.

Two years later, he ran for the seat of a Democratic candidate in the US House of Representative but was unsuccessful in his attempt. From 1967 to 1968, he served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.

For four years, from 1979 to 1983 he served as a member of the Advisory Council to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He then took up various position which included appointments as cultural ambassador to various countries, the advisory committee of the U.S. Postal Service, and the International Broadcasting Board.

As far as writing is concerned, during the latter half of his life, he shifted focus to American landscapes and concentrated on them in his works. A couple of examples of such included, ‘Centennial’ and ‘Chesapeake’.

‘The Centennial’ was documented into a popular twelve-part television miniseries of the same name and aired on NBC from October 1978 through February 1979.

While the 1980 released novel, ‘The Covenant’ was written with South Africa and apartheid as its backdrop, ‘Space,’ released in 1982, provided a fictional account of the US Space program.

In 1992, he came up with two works; first ‘Mexico’, a fictional take on the on-going problems of the contemporary Mexico and second a memoir by the name, ‘The World Is My Home’.

Awards & Achievements

He was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948.

He was twice recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools in 1954 and 1958.

In 1967, he won the Einstein Award. Following year, he was presented with the Bestsellers paperback of the Year Award.

In 1970, he was presented with the George Washington Award from the Hungarian Studies Foundation.

In 1977, he was conferred with the prestigious US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

In 1980, he was awarded the Franklin Award for distinguished service from the Printing Industries of Metropolitan New York. Three years later, he was honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for his contribution and support of arts in America.

He won a Lippincott Travelling fellowship from the British Museum and a Distinguished Service Medal from NASA

In 1988, he was conferred with the Golden Badge of Order of Merit.

In 1993, he was presented with the Lone Sailor Award by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation for his naval service and his literary achievements.

Personal Life & legacy

He married thrice in his life. First was to Patti Koon in 1935. However, the unison did not work for long and he married his second wife Vange Nord in 1948. His second marriage was annulled in 1955.

Same year, he married his third wife, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa. She died in 1994.

Towards the end of his life, he stayed at the University of Texas in Austin. In October, he put an end to the daily dialysis treatment that had been continuing for four years. Eventually, he breathed his last on the sixteenth of the month due to kidney failure.

He was cremated and his ashes were buried next to his wife at the Austin Memorial Park. Since he did not have any heir, he left much of his estates and his works to Swarthmore College.

Philanthropic and benevolent, he gave up much of his earnings towards charitable works. He is reported to have donated a total of US$100 million.

He donated the royalty earnings from the Canadian edition of his novel ‘Journey’ to initiate the Journey Prize, an annual Canadian literary prize worth $10,000 (Cdn) that is awarded for the year's best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer.

Posthumously, a restaurant at the Iririki Island Resort and a suite at Raffles Hotel Singapore are named after him.

To honor him, the Random House Publishing created an award for the best first novel written by an author over 40-years-old.

In 2008, the US Postal Service honored him with a 59 cent Distinguished Americans series postage stamp.

The library at his alma mater, The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, has been named after him.

Trivia

This Pulitzer Prize winning author of the ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ fame is reported to have survived three near fatal plane crashes.

// Famous Democrats

James A. Michener awards

YearNameAward

Other

1948 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1977 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
1993 - Lone Sailor Award for his naval service

James A. Michener biography timelines

  • // 3rd Feb 1907
    Not much is known of James Albert Michener’s early life and his childhood except for the fact that he was raised by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener as a Quaker in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is reported to have been born on February 3, 1907.
  • // 1925
    Young Michener gained his early education from Doylestown High School from where he graduated in 1925. Thereafter, he enrolled at the Swarthmore College where he indulged in playing basketball.
  • // 1929
    At the college, he was part of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He studied English and psychology at the college. Graduating with the highest honors from the college summa cum laude in 1929, he moved to Europe and studied there for a couple of years.
  • // 1933 To 1936
    His first ever vocation was as a high school English teacher at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He thereafter moved to George School in Newtown Pennsylvania in 1933 and continued with the same profile for three years until 1936.
  • // 1935 To 1955
    He married thrice in his life. First was to Patti Koon in 1935. However, the unison did not work for long and he married his second wife Vange Nord in 1948. His second marriage was annulled in 1955.
  • // 1936 To 1940
    In 1936, he enrolled at the Colorado State Teachers College to earn his master’s degree. Upon completing his degree, he taught at the university for some time before taking up a teaching position at Harvard for a year from 1939 to 1940. He served as an Assistant Visiting Professor of History at the Harvard
  • // 1940
    In 1940, he left Harvard to join Macmillan Publishers for the profile of social studies education editor. He could not continue in the position for long as he was called for military service during World War II and was drafted into the United States Navy as a lieutenant.
  • // 1947
    The novel, ‘Tales of the South Pacific’ was published in 1947 to much acceptance and critical acclaim. It later served as the base for the Broadway and film musical, ‘South Pacific’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The following year, the book was felicitated with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • // 1948
    He was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948.
  • // 1949
    Following the grand success of his debut novel, he came out with his second venture, ‘The Fires of Spring’ in 1949, which was an autobiographical work. It was followed by three novels, ‘The Return to Paradise’, ‘The Bridges of Toko-ri’ and ‘Sayonara’.
  • // 1950 To 1970
    Towards the end of the 1950s he started working as a roving editor for Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, a position in which he served until the 1970s. His 1965 released novel, ‘The Source’ was yet again well received and included his trademark speciality of extensive detailing and research.
  • // 1954 To 1958
    He was twice recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools in 1954 and 1958.
  • // 1955 To 1994
    Same year, he married his third wife, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa. She died in 1994.
  • // 1959
    It was the 1959 released novel, ‘Hawaii’ that gained him instant stardom and made him a best-selling author. The novel was the first of the many more to follow multi-generational historical novels that he became known for.
  • // 1960
    Other than writing, he devoted a lot of his time to public service as well. In 1960, he served as the chairman of the Bucks County committee which elected John F Kennedy.
  • // 1967 To 1968
    Two years later, he ran for the seat of a Democratic candidate in the US House of Representative but was unsuccessful in his attempt. From 1967 to 1968, he served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.
  • // 1967
    In 1967, he won the Einstein Award. Following year, he was presented with the Bestsellers paperback of the Year Award.
  • // 1970
    In 1970, he was presented with the George Washington Award from the Hungarian Studies Foundation.
  • // 1977
    In 1977, he was conferred with the prestigious US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
  • // Oct 1978 To Feb 1979
    ‘The Centennial’ was documented into a popular twelve-part television miniseries of the same name and aired on NBC from October 1978 through February 1979.
  • // 1979 To 1983
    For four years, from 1979 to 1983 he served as a member of the Advisory Council to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He then took up various position which included appointments as cultural ambassador to various countries, the advisory committee of the U.S. Postal Service, and the International Broadcasting Board.
  • // 1980 To 1982
    While the 1980 released novel, ‘The Covenant’ was written with South Africa and apartheid as its backdrop, ‘Space,’ released in 1982, provided a fictional account of the US Space program.
  • // 1980
    In 1980, he was awarded the Franklin Award for distinguished service from the Printing Industries of Metropolitan New York. Three years later, he was honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for his contribution and support of arts in America.
  • // 1988
    In 1988, he was conferred with the Golden Badge of Order of Merit.
  • // 1992
    In 1992, he came up with two works; first ‘Mexico’, a fictional take on the on-going problems of the contemporary Mexico and second a memoir by the name, ‘The World Is My Home’.
  • // 1993
    In 1993, he was presented with the Lone Sailor Award by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation for his naval service and his literary achievements.
  • // 16th Oct 1997
    Towards the end of his life, he stayed at the University of Texas in Austin. In October, he put an end to the daily dialysis treatment that had been continuing for four years. Eventually, he breathed his last on the sixteenth of the month due to kidney failure.
  • // 2008
    In 2008, the US Postal Service honored him with a 59 cent Distinguished Americans series postage stamp.

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James A. Michener's FAQ

  • What is James A. Michener birthday?

    James A. Michener was born at 1907-02-03

  • When was James A. Michener died?

    James A. Michener was died at 1997-10-16

  • Where was James A. Michener died?

    James A. Michener was died in Austin

  • Which age was James A. Michener died?

    James A. Michener was died at age 90

  • Where is James A. Michener's birth place?

    James A. Michener was born in Doylestown

  • What is James A. Michener nationalities?

    James A. Michener's nationalities is American

  • What is James A. Michener ideologies?

    James A. Michener's ideologies is Democrats

  • Who is James A. Michener spouses?

    James A. Michener's spouses is Mari Yoriko Sabusawa (m. 1955–1994), Patti Koon (m. 1935), Vange Nord (m. 1948–1955)

  • What was James A. Michener universities?

    James A. Michener studied at Swarthmore College, University of Northern Colorado

  • Which company or organization was founded by James A. Michener?

    James A. Michener was the founder/co-founder of Michener Center for Writers

  • What is James A. Michener's sun sign?

    James A. Michener is Aquarius