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Museum Directors Note:  The following information is obtained from WikiPida.  There is no gurantee to the accuracy of the information, but we do find most of it to be credible.  As we research and learn mroe we will update this page.

We have choosen to add Mr. Michener to the list of Texas Authors, even though he was a writer for the World, in his finale years, he did have a tie to Texas and the Unviersity of Texas - Austin.  One of his last books was even about Texas, so we honor this talented man with a listing in our museum.

James Albert Michener (/ˈmɪnər/;[1] February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 books, the majority of which were fictional, lengthy family sagas covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. Michener was known for the popularity of his works; he had numerous bestsellers and works selected for Book of the Month Club. He was also known for his meticulous research behind the books.[2]

Michener's novels include Tales of the South Pacific for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, HawaiiThe DriftersCentennialThe SourceThe Fires of SpringChesapeakeCaribbeanCaravansAlaskaTexas and Poland. His non-fiction works include Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal; his memoir titled The World Is My Home, and Sports in AmericaReturn to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener's factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.[2]

His first book was adapted as the popular Broadway musical South Pacific by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, and later as a film by the same name, adding to his financial success.

Biography

Michener wrote that he did not know who his biological parents were or exactly when or where he was born.[2] He said he was raised a Quaker by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in DoylestownBucks County, Pennsylvania.[3]

Michener graduated from Doylestown High School in 1925. He attended Swarthmore CollegeSwarthmore, Pennsylvania, where he played basketball and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. After graduating summa cum laude in 1929 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History, he traveled and studied in Scotland at the University of St Andrews for two years.[4]

Michener took a job as a high school English teacher at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. From 1933 to 1936, he taught English at George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania. He attended University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Education.[3] After graduation, he taught at the university for several years; the library at the University of Northern Colorado was later named after him.[citation needed]

In 1935, Michener married Patti Koon. He went to Harvard University and taught from 1939 to 1940, but left to join Macmillan Publishers as their social studies education editor.[3]

Michener was called to active duty during World War II in the United States Navy. He traveled throughout the South Pacific Ocean on various assignments which he gained because his base commanders mistakenly thought his father was Admiral Marc Mitscher.[5] His experiences during these travels inspired his stories published in his breakout work Tales of the South Pacific.[3]

In 1960, Michener was chairman of the Bucks County committee to elect John F. Kennedy. In 1962, he unsuccessfully ran as a Democratic candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, a decision he later considered a misstep. "My mistake was to run in 1962 as a Democratic candidate for Congress. [My wife] kept saying, 'Don't do it, don't do it.' I lost and went back to writing books."[3]

In 1968, Michener served as the campaign manager for twice-elected US senator Joseph S. Clark's third-term run.[6] Michener was later Secretary for the 1967–68 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.[3]

Writing career

Michener began his writing career during World War II, when as a lieutenant in the Navy he was assigned to the South Pacific as a naval historian. He later turned his notes and impressions into Tales of the South Pacific (1947), his first book, published when he was 40. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948, and Rodgers and Hammerstein adapted it as the hit Broadway musical South Pacific, which premiered on Broadway in 1949.[7] The musical was also adapted as eponymous feature films in 1958 and 2001.

In the late 1950s, Michener began working as a roving editor for Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. He gave up that work in 1970.[citation needed]

Michener tried television writing but was unsuccessful. American television producer Bob Mann wanted Michener to co-create a weekly anthology series from Tales of the South Pacific, and serve as narrator. Rodgers and Hammerstein, however, had bought all dramatic rights to the novel and did not relinquish their ownership.[8] Michener did lend his name to a different television series, Adventures in Paradise, in 1959.[9]

Michener was a popular writer during his lifetime; his novels sold an estimated 75 million copies worldwide.[10] His novel Hawaii (1959) was based on extensive research. He used this approach for nearly all of his subsequent novels, which were based on detailed historical, cultural, and even geological research. Centennial (1974), which documented several generations of families in the West, was adapted as a popular 12-part television miniseries of the same name and aired on NBC from October 1978 through February 1979.[citation needed]

In 1996, State House Press published James A. Michener: A Bibliography, compiled by David A. Groseclose. Its more than 2,500 entries from 1923 to 1995 include magazine articles, forewords, and other works.[citation needed]

Michener's prodigious output made for lengthy novels, several of which run more than 1,000 pages. The author states in My Lost Mexico (1992) that at times he would spend 12 to 15 hours per day at his typewriter for weeks on end, and that he used so much paper, his filing system had trouble keeping up.[page needed]

Philanthropist

Michener became a major philanthropist, donating more than US$100 million to educational and writing institutions, including his alma mater, Swarthmore College, the Iowa Writers Workshop, and more than US$37 million to University of Texas at Austin. By 1992, his gifts made him UTA's largest single donor to that time. Over the years, Mari Michener played a major role in helping direct his donations.[2]

In 1989, Michener donated the royalty earnings from the Canadian edition of his novel, Journey (1989), published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, to create 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.[11]

Final years and death

In Micheners' final years, he and his wife lived in Austin, Texas, and they endowed the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center provides Michener Fellowship scholarships to students accepted to the university's MFA in Writing program.[12][13]

Suffering from terminal kidney disease, in October 1997, Michener ended the daily dialysis treatment that had kept him alive for four years. He said he had accomplished what he wanted and did not want further physical complications. On October 16, 1997, he died of kidney failure, at age 90.[2][7] Michener was cremated, and his ashes were placed next to those of his wife at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery in Austin, Texas.[14]

References

  1. "Michener". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language(Fourth ed.). Houghton Mifflin. 2004. 

  2. Albin Krebs (October 17, 1997). "James Michener, Author of Novels That Sweep Through the History of Places, Is Dead"The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 

  3. Pennsylvania Center for the Book - Michener Biography, Penn State University Libraries

  4. Biographical Sketch, James A. Michener Papers, University of Miami liberary

  5. Michener, James A. Return to Paradise Random House 1951

  6. Beers, Paul B. (March 31, 1976). Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday: The Tolerable Accommodation. Penn State University Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0271002385. 

  7. "Get me Michener at Raffles". Singapore: The New Paper. September 16, 1998. 

  8. Hayes, John Michael. James A. Michener: A Biography, Bobbs-Merrill, 1984, p. 158.

  9. Hayes, p. 159.

  10. "James Michener Biography"Bookrags.com. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 

  11. "Journey Prize". 

  12. "The Michener Center for Writers and its Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Texas at Austin". utexas.edu. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 

  13. "The Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin". utexas.edu. RetrievedMay 28, 2014. 

  14. "Memorial headstone details for James Michener". cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved May 28,2014. 

  15. O'Neill, James (March 1, 1998). "Michener's gift keeps on giving". Philadelphia Inquirer. 

  16. "Lone Sailor Award Recipients"The United States Navy Memorial. Retrieved 29 November2014. 

  17. http://www.iririki.com/dinning.html

  18. "Memorial headstone details for James Michener". cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved May 28,2014. 

  19. Two American Legends Appearing on Stamps: The Postal Service Honors James Michener and Dr. Edward Trudeau.

  20. "Michener Library"Libraries: UNC's Information Source. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 

  21. James A. Michener Society

 

Citation

Wikipidea as of November 12, 2015

Books by the Author:

There are 40 titles by this author.  We will only list the one pertaining to his last years living in Texas.

  

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