James Albert Michener, 1907 - 1997
At Pearl Harbor, photo by Robert Wilson, US Navy (7 December 1991)
Born: 3 February 1907, Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Died: 16 October 1997, Austin, Texas
James Albert Michener was probably born on this day in 1907, the exact location is unknown. He was abandoned by his birth mother and raised as a Quaker by his adoptive mother Mabel Michener at Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude from Swarthmore in 1929, traveled and studied in Europe for two years, taught English in Pennsylvania, earned his Masters at Colorado State Teachers College and taught there for several years, taught at Harvard for a year and then became social studies education editor at Macmillan Publishers. Although his religion exempted him from military service, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served as a naval historian in the south Pacific. Based on that experience, he wrote Tales of the South Pacific, his first novel, which won a Pulitzer for fiction. He is best known for sweeping, epic novels based on places, starting with Hawaii in 1959, and including such titles as Alaska, Texas, and Chesapeake. After campaigning for John F. Kennedy in 1960, in '62 he ran for Congress, lost, and went back to writing. He traveled widely, researched diligently, and wrote big, fat, readable books (several were over 1,000 pages), selling over 75 million copies. This allowed him to give away over a hundred million dollars, mostly to universities, libraries, and museums. He spent his last years at Austin, Texas where he founded an MFA program for writers at the University of Texas. He had been on daily dialysis for four years when he elected to discontinue treatment and soon died of renal failure.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
James A. Michener quotes:
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- A nation becomes what its young people read in their youth. Its ideals are fashioned then, its goals strongly determined. permalink
- A Pole is a man born with a sword in his right hand, a brick in his left. When the battle is over, he starts to rebuild. permalink
- A soldier lives always for the next battle, because he knows that before it arrives impossible changes can occur in his favor. permalink
- A writer can make a fortune in America, but he can't make a living. permalink
- About a billion years ago, long before the continents had separated to define the ancient oceans, or their own outlines had been determined, a small protuberance jutted out from the northwest corner of what would later become North America. permalink
First line of Alaska (1988)
- All I can do is play the game the way the cards fall. permalink
- Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors - somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating - none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period. I take enormous pride in considering myself an artist, one of the necessaries. permalink
- An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. permalink
- As a writer I have persisted in my uncertainty, alternating between novels which could charitably be considered literature and world reporting which by another stretch of objective standards might be called history. permalink
- Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries. permalink
- For this is the journey that men and women make, to find themselves. If they fail in this, it doesn't matter much else what they find. permalink
- How do I change? If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sad I will laugh. If I feel ill I will double my labour. If I feel fear I will plunge ahead. If I feel inferior I will wear new garments. If I feel uncertain I will raise my voice. permalink
- I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson, the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant, and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. permalink
The World Is My Home (1991)
- I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail. permalink
- I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. permalink
The World Is My Home (1991)
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