James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel,
Tales of the South Pacific
, which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for the year's best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer; founded an MFA program now, named the Michener Center for Writers, at the University of Texas at Austin; and made substantial contributions to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, best known for its permanent collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings and a room containing Michener's own typewriter, books, and various memorabilia.
Michener's entry in Who's Who in America says he was born on Feb. 3, 1907. But he said in his 1992 memoirs that the circumstances of his birth remained cloudy and he did not know just when he was born or who his parents were.