Salinger was raised in Manhattan and began writing short stories while in secondary school. Several were published in Story magazine in the early 1940s before he began serving in World War II. In 1948, his critically acclaimed story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" appeared in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his later work. The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and became an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers. The novel remains widely read and controversial, selling around 250,000 copies a year.
The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny. Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories (1953); a volume containing a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961); and a volume containing two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled "Hapworth 16, 1924", appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965. Afterward, Salinger struggled with unwanted attention, including a legal battle in the 1980s with biographer Ian Hamilton and the release in the late 1990s of memoirs written by two people close to him: Joyce Maynard, an ex-lover; and Margaret Salinger, his daughter. In 1996, a small publisher announced a deal with Salinger to publish "Hapworth 16, 1924" in book form, but amid the ensuing publicity the release was indefinitely delayed. He made headlines around the globe in June 2009 when he filed a lawsuit against another writer for copyright infringement resulting from that writer's use of one of the characters from The Catcher in the Rye.
Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. In November 2013, three unpublished stories by Salinger were briefly posted online. One of the stories, "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls", is said to be a prequel to The Catcher in the Rye.
Jerome David Salinger was born in Manhattan, New York on January 1, 1919. His father, Sol Salinger, sold kosher cheese, and was from a Jewish family of Lithuanian descent, his own father having been the rabbi for the Adath Jeshurun congregation in Louisville, Kentucky. Salinger's mother, Marie (née Jillich), was born in Atlantic, Iowa, of German, Irish, and Scottish descent, but changed her name to Miriam and considered herself Jewish after marrying Salinger's father. Salinger did not learn that his mother was not of Jewish ancestry until just after he celebrated his bar mitzvah. His only sibling was his older sister Doris (1911–2001).
In youth, Salinger attended public schools on the West Side of Manhattan. Then in 1932, the family moved to Park Avenue, and Salinger was enrolled at the McBurney School, a nearby private school. Salinger had trouble fitting in at his new school and took measures to conform, such as calling himself Jerry. His family called him Sonny. At McBurney, he managed the fencing team, wrote for the school newspaper and appeared in plays. He "showed an innate talent for drama", though his father opposed the idea of his becoming an actor. His parents then enrolled him at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Salinger began writing stories "under the covers , with the aid of a flashlight". Salinger was the literary editor of the class yearbook, Crossed Sabres. He also participated in the Glee Club, Aviation Club, French Club, and the Non-Commissioned Officers Club.