Michener was a foundling, raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania by a widow who took in a number of such children. There was no father figure in the home and they lived in extreme poverty, although him mother loved and encouraged her many charges. Two local men acted as father figures and mentors to the young James. During his teens he spent several years wandering about the USA, traveling by boxcar, hitch-hiking and doing odd jobs. He graduated from Swarthmore College and then St. Andrews University, Scotland.
After teaching school for a couple of years his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, was published, based on his experiences during World War II. It became the basis for the musical comedy South Pacific. Other titles include The Source, Centennial, Chesapeake, The Covenant, Poland, Texas, Legacy, Alaska and Journey.
He received the Pulitzer Prize and the US Medal of Freedom.
He was also an expert collector of Japanese art, publishing five volumes on that subject in addition to his many other books.
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