John O'Hara - (1905-1970)
John Paul Smith
John O'Hara, considered in his day a gifted yet controversial writer of both novels and short stories, was born on January 31, 1905 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He spent time in Pennsylvania for the early part of his childhood until his parents decided to send him off to Niagara Preparatory School in Niagara, New York. He graduated in 1924. When O'Hara's father died, his family went into poverty. For that reason, O'Hara couldn't go to college. He went to work as a reporter for various newspapers in Pennsylvania until 1926. For the rest of the twenties he traveled around the country until he settled in New York and got a job with the Hollywood columnist Heywood Broun. In 1928, O'Hara's published his first short story in The New Yorker Magazine. He would eventually become a regular contributor to the magazine.
In 1934, O'Hara published his first novel Appointment in Samarra. This novel was a major success along with his second novel Butterfield 8. These novels established O'Hara as a big time novelist. In 1940, one of O'Hara's novel Pal Joey was turned into a musical with the help of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The original run wasn't successful, but another run in 1952 was a huge success.
During World War II, O'Hara became a correspondent in the Pacific. After the war, O'Hara concentrated on becoming a screenwriter. He was involved in the writing of On Our Merry Way , and even novels that brought him success in the past.
The 1950's and 1960's brought more success to the novelist. He wrote the novels A Rage To Live, From a Terrace, and Ten North Fredrick , (which won O'Hara the National Book Award in 1955). O'Hara settled in Princeton, New Jersey where he died on April 11, 1970.
Appointment in Samarra when released in 1934 was widely received by the public, but was criticized for its frank discussion of sex. The book delves into the social lives of the upper middle class of the fictional town of Gibbsville, Pennsylvania. The novel's main character, Jullian English, is a man who is well employed. He gets in trouble at a Christmas party when he gets plastered and throws a drink in his boss' face. O'Hara's development of the characters in this book through their dialogue shows why John O'Hara is considered one of the greatest storytellers of this century.
Butterfield 8 (1935) is another novel where John O'Hara shows the flaws ofa society in the New York Speakeasy Society. The story centers on the death of Starr Faithful and the insuing investigation surrounding her death. O'Hara has won acclaim for his satire of upper middle class. This book was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Appointment in Samarra (1934)
The Doctor's Son and Other Stories (1935)
Butterfield 8 (1935)
Hope of Heaven (1938)
Files on Parade (1939)
Pal Joey (1940)
A Rage To Live (1949)
Ten North Fredrick (1955)
From The Terrace (1958)
IV. Sources O'Hara, John. Biography. 9 Apr 2000
O'Hara, John. Encarta. 9 Apr 2000
http://encarta.msn.com O'Hara, John. Amazon. 12 Apr 2000
This essay was submitted by a student of Cheryl Petersohn, a teacher at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.