“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
~ E. L. Doctorow
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (born January 6, 1931) is an American author. His novels have been published in over thirty languages. He has written several historical novels, for instance, set in the American West, the 1940s-1950s, the 1920s, and the Civil War.
To support his family, Doctorow spent nine years as a book editor, first at NAL working with Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand among others; and from 1964, as editor-in-chief at The Dial Press, publishing work by James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Ernest J. Gaines and William Kennedy, among others.
In 1969, Doctorow left publishing in order to write, accepting a position as Visiting Writer at the University of California, Irvine, where he completed The Book of Daniel (1971), a freely fictionalized consideration of the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for allegedly giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was widely acclaimed, called a “masterpiece” by The Guardian, and said by The New York Times to launch the author into “the first rank of American writers” according to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt.
Doctorow’s next book, written in his home in New Rochelle, New York, was Ragtime (1975), later named one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library editorial board.
His subsequent work includes the award-winning novels World’s Fair (1985), Billy Bathgate (1989) and The March (2005); two volumes of short fiction, Lives of the Poets I (1984) and Sweetland Stories (2004); and two volumes of essays, Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution (1993) and Creationists (2006).
He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Yale School of Drama, the University of Utah, the University of California, Irvine, and Princeton University. He is the Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of English and American Letters at New York University. He has donated his papers to the Fales Library of New York University.