Meet the Author

William Saroyan

Portrait of William Saroyan

William Saroyan, the son of Armenian immigrants, was born in Fresno, California, in 1908. He left school at age thirteen, but he remained an avid reader. He worked as a telegraph messenger, newsboy, farm laborer, and office clerk, and he drew from these experiences to write short stories, novels, and plays. His first publication, the story "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1934), began a successful writing career. Five years later, his play The Time of Your Life won the Pulitzer Prize. He refused to accept the award, however. He believed that businesses should not support the arts (the Pulitzer Prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer, a newspaper publisher) and that the play was "no more great or good than anything else I have written."

Saroyan's success continued. His novel The Human Comedy was published in 1942 and made into a movie, for which he won an Academy Award in 1943 for the best writing of an original motion picture story. Saroyan became very popular through the 1940s and 1950s; altogether, he published more than 60 books. He died in 1981.

In the last book published during his lifetime, Obituaries, William Saroyan wrote, "My work is writing, but my real work is being."

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by William Saroyan

  • The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories
  • Love, Here Is My Hat
  • My Heart's in the Highlands
  • The Time of Your Life
  • My Name Is Aram
    (illustrated by Don Freeman)
  • The Human Comedy
  • The Cave Dwellers
  • Here Comes, There Goes, You Know Who
  • Not Dying
  • One Day in the Afternoon of the World
  • Days of Life and Death and Escape to the Moon
  • Obituaries