5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About J. D. Salinger

On January 27, 2010, J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of the novel The Catcher in the Rye, died in Cornish, New Hampshire at the age of 91. Here are 5 fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about this eccentric author...


He Refused to Allow His Work To Be Edited In the normal course of events, an author expects to be asked to make at least minor changes to a manuscript prior to publication based on the recommendation of one or more editors. Salinger, however, was notoriously resistant to that notion. Harcourt Brace offered to publish The Catcher in the Rye, but Salinger declined the deal when the publisher insisted on certain rewrites. Instead, he waited to publish the book until he found a publishing house that would publish it "as is." The untouched book was eventually released by Little, Brown and Company. The book became an instant success and has sold over 65 million copies since its publication.

He Only Gave One Interview Salinger became more and more reclusive after his blockbuster novel was published. He refused to allow his photo to appear on the dust jacket, and turned down any opportunities to publicize it—with one exception.  After moving to New Hampshire, Salinger agreed to give an interview to a local high school paper, The Claremont Daily Eagle.  When he saw that the interview had been published as a front-page article in the local newspaper, he felt betrayed, and erected a high fence surrounding his property to safeguard his privacy. 


The New Yorker Declined To Print A Catcher In The Rye Exceprt The New Yorker had published several of Salinger's stories prior to the debut of his novel, so it must have been a shock to the author when the magazine declined to publish an excerpt from The Catcher in the Rye when an advance copy of the book was given to the magazine for that purpose. Editors for the magazine felt the characters were "unbelievable," and declined to run any of it.

He Has Some Rather Strange Personal Habits As is the case with many reclusive people, Salinger was often the subject of wild conjecture and rumor. However, even those who knew him intimately have revealed some behaviors that could be classified as uncommon if not a bit strange. For instance, his daughter, Margaret, revealed in a memoir that her father would occasionally speak in tongues and would sip his own urine with the belief that doing so had some health benefit, a practice known as urophagia.

Sallinger And Charlie Chaplin Were Rivals In 1941, 22-year-old Salinger dated Oona O'Neill, a 16-year-old New York socialite and the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill. Their relationship ended when Salinger went to war and Oona moved to California where she met silent screen legend Charlie Chaplin, eventually becoming Chaplin's fourth wife. Salinger read about the marriage in the newspaper and wrote a scathing letter to her about her marriage to the famous funny man.