Ragtime, his most famous work, blended fictional characters with historical figures in early 1900s America, including J.P. Morgan, Booker T. Washington, Harry Houdini and Emma Goldman. The book was adapted into a 1981 movie starring James Cagney, and was later developed into a Broadway musical in 1998 when it won four Tony awards.
A native New Yorker, Doctorow penned a dozen novels, three volumes of short fiction and a stage drama, including essays and commentary on literature and politics. The novel Welcome to Hard Times was adapted into a 1967 Western film starring Henry Fonda, while Billy Bathgate got the silver-screen treatment in 1991, with a cast that included Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi. Doctorow won numerous awards for his work, including a National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, an Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction and the National Humanities Medal.