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Ragtime and Billy Bathgate Novelist E.L. Doctorow Dies at 84

Do you have a favorite Doctorow novel?

Shelli Weinstein

Novelist E.L. Doctorow, best known for his 1975 work Ragtime died Tuesday at the age of 84, following complications from lung cancer, his son told The New York Times.

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.

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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.