Literary recluse Salinger turns 90

New material from Catcher in the Rye author may appear posthumously

There are apparently no plans for J D Salinger, the literary leviathan whose truncated canon most famously includes The Catcher in the Rye, to appear tonight or any time soon on Larry King Live or any of the other television chat shows celebrities usually frequent on the urging of their agents.

This may seem like a missed opportunity. Published in 1951, Catcher, with Holden Caulfield as its adolescent and restless protagonist adrift in Manhattan, is still a hot seller and Salinger certainly qualifies as a superstar. More to the point today is his birthday; he is turning 90.

It is a milestone that fans of the writer will have to celebrate without him, because, over the years, he has come almost as famous for his aversion to publicity as he has for his literary achievements. We will simply have to assume that today Salinger will remain indoors in the house in Cornish, New Hampshire, which has been his home and hiding place since 1953.

That Salinger, a sometime Buddhist and Christian Scientist, has reached such an age is of no small moment for scholars of his life. It is youth, after all, that has most excited the author. "I always write about very young people," he told Harper's Magazine in 1946. Among them was Caulfield.

In life and love, Salinger has tended towards younger souls also. He was 36 when he married his second wife, Claire Douglas, when she was an undergraduate student. He was later to have an affair with Joyce Maynard, whom he also met when she was studying. (She was 18, he was 53.) Since the late 1980s, he has been married to Colleen O'Neill, a former nurse 40 years his junior.

The advancing years of Salinger, who has not given an interview in three decades, has had a tantalising effect on his circle of fans. What has he been doing all this time? Has he been writing as so many people hope and is it his intention to allow some or all of his output to be published after his death?

From time to time, flotsam about the private life of Salinger has come to light. In the 1990s, he was troubled by the release of two memoirs, one by Ms Maynard and another by Margaret Salinger, one of two children he had had with Ms Douglas. The other, a son named Mark, was later to denounce his sister's book, saying that it bore no relation to his memory of growing up in the Salinger household.

Ms Maynard caused further offence by selling off at auction letters that she had received from Salinger. They were bought, however, by a Silicon Valley millionaire, Peter Norton. Himself something of a recluse, Mr Norton said he had purchased them simply to return them to their author.

A smaller writer would surely have exhausted the patience of his fans long ago. Salinger has not published anything since 1965. That was Hapworth 16, 1924, which took up most of an issue of The New Yorker. That said, a plan has been in the offing for more than 10 years to have it republished as a book. It will finally be released this month. Or that, at least, is what it says on the Amazon.com website.

Ms Maynard has given us reason to think Salinger has been writing new material all these years and that we might see it, though posthumously. At the time they were together in the early 1970s, he already had two new novels under his belt, Ms Maynard said, adding that Salinger regarded the bother of having anything published a "damned interruption".

Salinger would rather that we paid no heed to today's date. That would be the best birthday gift we could give him. But he is too mighty and too intriguing a figure for that to be possible, of course.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice