|A foundling, taken in by Mabel Michener in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and reared as her foster child, James A. Michener attended Swarthmore College, and graduated (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1929. After teaching English for many years, he served as naval historian in the U.S. Navy, stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. His first book, "Tales of the South Pacific", was a collection of stories based on his experiences during the war. He became known for his epic-length tomes tackling a broad subject (Hawaii, Poland, Texas, space). Michener's books were hugely successful but never popular with critics. As he himself said to the "Times", "I don't think the way I write books is the best or even the second-best. The really great writers are the people like Emily Bront? who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination. But people in my position also do some very good work. I'm not a stylist like Updike or Bellow, and don't aspire to be. I'm not interested in plot or pyrotechnics, but I sure work to get a steady flow." "The New York Times" described his novels as "big, old-fashioned narratives involving generations of fictional families as they moved through expertly documented events in history." From an early age Michener loved to travel, and claimed: "Before I was 20, I had seen all the states but Washington, Oregon, and Florida. I had an insatiable love of hearing people tell stories, and what they didn't tell I made up." Michener was immensely wealthy, thanks to his book sales, and was also a great philanthropist, making large donations to, among other places, Swarthmore College, the University of Texas, the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, and The Authors League Fund. He died at the age of 90 after requesting that he be unhooked from his kidney dialysis machine.