"Ragtime" is a 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow set in turn-of-the-century New York. The novel is famous for its narrative as well as its use of real-life historical figures in fictional situations. It was ranked among TIME Magazine's 100 Best English-Language novels from 1923 to 2005 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.The narrative revolves around an upper middle class family … [Read more...]
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born on January 6th, 1931 in The Bronx, New York. The son of a second-generation Russian Jewish immigrants, Doctorow's father owned a music shop. He became interested in books when he began working at his grade school's literary magazine. He was first published in the magazine.
Doctorow went on to attend Kenyon College in Ohio where he majored in philosophy and acted in theater productions. He graduated with honors in 1952 and went on to study for another year at Columbia University after which he was drafted into the army. For two years in 1954 and 1955, he served as a corporal in Germany.
In 1954, Doctorow also married a woman named Helen Esther Setzer whom he met while serving in Germany. The couple went on to have three children. After he completed his service, he returned to New York and began working at a motion picture company. Working on so many Westerns gave Doctorow inspiration to write his first novel, "Welcome to Hard Times" a western that was published in 1960. The novel received positive reviews. Doctorow spent the next nine years working as an editor and then went on to become the editor-in-chief of Dial Press, a publishing company that dealt with authors like James Baldwin and William Kennedy.
In 1969, Doctorow decided to write full time and accepted a position as visiting writer at the University of California, Irvine. It was there that he completed his second novel, "The Book of Daniel" in 1971. In 1975, Doctorow completed his most well known work, "Ragtime" which went on to be considered one of the 100 best books of the 20th century by the Modern Library Association. Doctorow went on to write several more award-winning books, such as "World's Fair" (1985), "Billy Bathgate" (1989) and "The March" (2005).
Throughout his life, Doctorow also taught at the Yale School of Drama, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of Utah and Princeton University. In 2001, he donated his notes to the Fales Library of New York University. On July 21st, 2015 Doctorow died of lung cancer in Manhattan. He was eighty-four years old. He is now buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in his hometown of The Bronx.