Updated:
Original:
Year
1951
Month Day
July 16

"Catcher in the Rye" is published

J.D. Salinger’s only full-length novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is published by Little, Brown on this day in 1951. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, is an instant hit and will be taught in high schools for half a century.

The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade. His stories had already started appearing in the 1940s, many in The New Yorker.

The book took the country by storm, selling out and becoming a Book of the Month Club selection. Fame did not agree with Salinger, who retreated to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New Hampshire, but he continued to publish stories in The New Yorker periodically. He published Franny and Zooey in 1963, based on two combined New Yorker stories.

Salinger stopped publishing work in 1965, the same year he divorced his wife of 12 years, whom he had married when he was 32. In 1999, journalist Joyce Maynard published a book about her affair with Salinger, which had taken place more than two decades earlier. Notoriously reclusive, Salinger died at his home in New Hampshire on January 27, 2010. He was 91 years old.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Amazon opens for business

On this day in 1995, Amazon officially opens for business as an online bookseller. Within a month, the fledgling retailer had shipped books to all 50 U.S. states and to 45 countries. Founder Jeff Bezos’s motto was “get big fast,” and Seattle-based Amazon eventually morphed into ...read more

JFK Jr. killed in plane crash

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and her sister, Lauren Bessette, die when the single-engine plane that Kennedy was piloting crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., was born on ...read more

Apollo 11 departs Earth

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11, the first U.S. lunar landing mission, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a historic journey to the surface of the moon. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., ...read more

Draft riots continue to rock New York City

The draft riots enter their fourth day in New York City in response to the Enrollment Act, which was enacted on March 3, 1863. Although avoiding military service became much more difficult, wealthier citizens could still pay a commutation fee of $300 to stay at home. Irritation ...read more