J.D. Salinger J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, the enigmatic, reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, has died. He was 91.

Salinger died Wednesday of natural causes at his Cornish, N.H., home, his son said, according to The Associated Press.

Published in 1951, Catcher became one of the most influential novels in modern American literature for its disaffected tale of teenage angst, seen through the eyes of protagonist Holden Caulfield, the anti-hero who despised "phonies" in an adult world and subsequently became an icon of teen rebellion.

Born Jan. 1, 1919 in Manhattan, the son of a Jewish cheese salesman and an Irish-Scottish mother, Salinger grew up in the city before attending Valley Forge Military Academy at age 15, where he wrote stories at night under the covers. In 1940, he published his first story, "The Young Folks," about selfish young adults, in Whit Burnett's Story magazine after impressing Burnett in his Columbia University writing class. After publishing several more stories, he served in the Army from 1942-1946, during which he continued to write and submit stories.

One of the stories, "Slight Rebellion Off Madison," published by The New Yorker in 1946, introduced the restless and skeptic Holden Caulfield, and became the basis for Catcher. The novel quickly became a bestseller, spending 30 weeks on The New York Times' bestseller list.

Salinger followed it up with Nine Stories, a collection of short stories, in 1953. Franny and Zooey, which was originally published in The New Yorker as a short story and a novella, hit shelves in 1961. His final book, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, which combined two New Yorker stories, was published in 1963.

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Weary of the fame following the success of Catcher

, Salinger withdrew from the public eye and spent the last few decades in seclusion at his New Hampshire home, where he shunned interaction with the outside world, including his literary agents. His last published work, "Hapworth16, 1924," appeared in The New Yorker in 1965."He was famous for not wanting to be famous," wrote Ian Hamilton in his book In Search of J.D. Salinger.After divorcing Sylvia Welter in the mid-1940s, Salinger married Claire Douglas in 1955 and had two children, Margaret and Matthew. The pair divorced in 1967 after Salinger, according to Margaret, made her mother "a virtual prisoner" by isolating her from family and friends.

Salinger married a third time in the late 1980s to Colleen O'Neill, a woman he met in New Hampshire.

Salinger's struggle with the limelight continued when he sued Hamilton over the publication of his biography and with the 1999 publication of At Home in the World, Joyce Maynard's memoir detailing her relationship with Salinger in the 1970s.

In 2000, Margaret published Dream Catcher, in which she paints her father as a neurotic recluse who drank his own urine.

Last year, Salinger sued to stop the publication of John David California's 60 Years Later, an unauthorized sequel to Catcher that describes a 76-year-old Holden.

Salinger, who continued to write, granted few interviews in the last half-century — the most recent was in 1980.

"There is a marvelous peace in not publishing," he told The New York Times in 1974. "I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."