Doctorow rocketed to national fame in 1975 with "Ragtime," an intoxicating portrayal of America as it moved into the twentieth century. Six years later came a movie version of "Ragtime" highlighted by the last theatrical film appearance of screen legend James Cagney. A 20-year old Eilzabeth McGovern snagged an Oscar nomination for her portrayal in that film of the notorious professional beauty Eleanor Nesbitt. Today, Miss McGovern has won new renown as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham on the TV series "Downton Abbey."
But back to Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, given his first name in tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. Doctorow's childhood in the 1930s is weaved into the narrative of his 1985 work "World's Fair."
His first foray into literature came working for Columbia Pictures as a script reader and summarizer of novels for possible adaptation into cinema. Such experiences inspired his first novel, "Welcome to Hard Times," a Western parody published in 1960.
Throughout the Sixties while developing his own style Doctorow labored as a book editor to various literary giants. At New American Library he dealt with Ayn Rand and Ian Fleming. As editor in chief at Dial Press, Doctorow would influence the publications of such names as James Baldwin, Norman Mailer and William Kennedy.
During his lifetime Doctorow would teach creative writing at New York University, Yale University Drama School, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College and the University of California at Irvine. Among the honors he would receive were the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circle Award and both a competitive and honorary National Book Award. Doctorow's output in later years included frequent essays found in The Nation magazine.
Merrick Library is proud to include in its Book collection the following works of E.L. Doctorow:
All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories
Billy Bathgate (1930s New York)
The Book of Daniel (Cold War era)
City of God
Creationists: Selected Essays
Homer and Langley
Lives of the Poets: Six Stories and a Novella
The March (Civil War; also on CD at Merrick Library)
Sweet Land Stories