- Doctorow, E.L.
▪ American authorin full Edgar Laurence Doctorowborn Jan. 6, 1931, New York, N.Y., U.S.American novelist known for his skillful manipulation of traditional genres.Doctorow graduated from Kenyon College (B.A., 1952) and later attended Columbia University. He worked for a time as a script reader for Columbia Pictures in New York City. In 1959 he joined the editorial staff of New American Library, leaving that post five years later to become editor in chief at Dial Press. He subsequently taught at several colleges and universities, including Sarah Lawrence College from 1971 to 1978. He was a visiting senior fellow at Princeton University in 1980–81 and the following year became Glucksman Professor of English and American Letters at New York University.Doctorow's first novel, Welcome to Hard Times (1960), is a philosophical turn on the western genre. In his next book, Big As Life (1966), he used science fiction to explore the human response to crisis. The Book of Daniel (1971) is a fictionalized treatment of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage in 1953. In Ragtime (1975; film, 1981), his most commercially successful work, actual figures of early 20th-century America share the spotlight with emblematic Anglo, Jewish, and African-American characters. The later novels Loon Lake (1980), World's Fair (1985), and Billy Bathgate (1989; film, 1991) examine the milieu of the Great Depression and its aftermath, and The Waterworks (1994) concerns life in 19th-century New York. Doctorow also wrote a play and published Lives of the Poets (1984), a collection of short fiction.
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