Industry & Advocacy News
July 23, 2015
Author E.L. Doctorow, a longtime supporter of the Guild, died on Tuesday, July 21, in New York City. He was 84 years old.
Doctorow had been a board member of the Authors League Fund since 1980, and a member of the Authors Guild since 1975. His books—among them World’s Fair, Ragtime, and Billy Bathgate—captured the popular imagination while winning critical acclaim. The author of twelve novels, three books of short stories, and a play, Doctorow was best known as a writer of historical fiction.
His many honors include the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.
Doctorow approached the profession of writing with wisdom, humor, and humility. When asked, in an interview with the National Book Foundation, how he hoped his books would affect history, he answered with characteristic insight.
We know, any of us who work as writers, the history of our profession and the perversity of it. How good people write bad books and bad people write good books. How good books disappear and bad books don’t disappear. And how for every champion of the very idea of what it is to be a writer, like Emerson, you have some genius working in obscurity, like Melville, who after a brief early success dies and only happens to be rediscovered forty years after his death. So the unpredictability of the value of any work is the essential message that you get when you think about these things.
Doctorow is survived by his wife, Helen Seltzer; a son; two daughters; and four grandchildren. The Authors Guild is honored by his many years of support and friendship.