- NAME: Norman Mailer
- OCCUPATION: Journalist, Author
- BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1923
- DEATH DATE: November 10, 2007
- EDUCATION: Harvard University, The Sorbonne
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Long Branch, New Jersey
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- AKA: Nachum Malech Mailer
- Full Name: Norman Kingsley Mailer
- AKA: Nachum Mailer
- AKA: Norman Mailer
- AKA: Andreas Wilson
- AKA: Nachem Malek
- Originally: Nachem Malek Mailer
Best Known For
Author Norman Mailer used a style combining fiction and journalism to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner's Song.
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Author Norman Mailer was born on January 31, 1923, in Long Branch, New Jersey. He studied at Harvard and served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. Mailer's first book, The Naked and the Dead, won immediate acclaim. His writing style, New Journalism, combined the imagination of fiction with qualities of reporting. His works included the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner's Song. He died in 2007, at the age of 84.
"Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing."
Often described as controversial, combative and egotistical, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer—his Jewish name is Nachem Malek—was born on January 31, 1923, in Long Branch, New Jersey. His father, Isaac Barnett Mailer, known as Barney, was a South-African Jewish émigré, and his mother, Fanny, was a Long Branch native whose family ran a local grocery store. His sister, Barbara, was born in 1927.
When Mailer was 9 years old, he moved with his family to Crown Heights, Brooklyn. An excellent student, he was just 16 when he enrolled at Harvard University, intending to major in aeronautical engineering. By his sophomore year, however, Mailer had found his niche in literature. After graduating from Harvard in 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Shortly after marrying Bea Silverman, in 1944, he was sent to the Philippines, where he saw very little combat. He finished his military career as a cook in occupied Japan. His experiences in the military gave him the inspiration he needed to write his first book, the semi-autobiographical The Naked and the Dead, while he was enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. The book instantly propelled him to fame at the tender age of 25.
In addition to his writing, Mailer was known for his alcohol-fueled fistfights, problems with alcohol and drugs, fascination with boxers and sometimes very public issues with the opposite sex. In 1960, after a night of drinking and partying, he stabbed his second wife, Adele Morales, with a penknife, seriously wounding her. Mailer was arrested, but his wife declined to press charges, and he was eventually released after being sent to Bellevue Hospital for observation. The marriage did not last the incident.
Mailer's attitude toward women did not sit well with the up-and-coming feminist writers of the day or the emerging crop of women's liberation movement supporters. Furthering these sentiments, in a famous 1971 debate with Germaine Greer in Manhattan, Mailer stated that he was an "enemy of birth control."
Mailer had six wives, including Carol Stevens, to whom he was married for just a few days in 1980 to give legitimacy to their daughter, Maggie. His other wives, in addition to Silverman and Morales, were Lady Jeanne Campbell, Beverly Rentz Bentley and Norris Church. At the time of his death, he had nine children; an adopted son, Matthew, by an earlier marriage of Norris's; and 10 grandchildren.
After writing The Naked and the Dead, Mailer was never far from the limelight for the next six decades.
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