J. D. Salinger was born Jerome David Salinger in New York City in 1919.
He saw combat action in some of the fiercest fighting in World War II, and was emotionally scarred by it.
His first novel The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and became hugely popular both among critics and young readers. It is a classic coming-of-age novel told by a disturbed, immature but insightful teenager named Holden Caulfield.
J.D. Salinger also wrote Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour -- An Introduction (1963) as well as short stories (collected in the book Nine Stories). The best of these stories is probably "For Esme, With Love and Squalor," which draws on his wartime experience and is narrated by a traumatized soldier.
A major theme in Salinger's work is the agile but powerful mind of disturbed young men, and the redemptive capacity of children in the lives of such men.
Salinger has tried to escape public exposure and attention as much as possible ("A writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him." ~Salinger). But he constantly struggles with the unwanted attention he gets as a cult figure. On learning of an author's intention to publish J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life, a biography including letters Salinger had written to other authors and friends, Salinger sued to stop the book's publication. The book was finally published with the letters' contents paraphrased; the court ruled that though a person may own a letter physically; the language within it belongs to the author.
An unintended result of the lawsuit was that many details of Salinger's private life, including that he had written two novels and many stories but left them unpublished, became public in the form of court transcripts.
Thirty-four years after his last book, Salinger published his first novel Hapworth 16, 1924, first published in the New Yorker as a short story in 1965. The novel will be published by a small press called Orchises Press.