James Michener


James Michener


Michener was once invited by President Eisenhower to a dinner at the White House. He wrote a letter to Eisenhower explaining why he couldn’t accept.

I received your invitation three days after I had agreed to speak a few words at a dinner honoring the wonderful high school teacher who taught me how to write. I know you will not miss me at your dinner, but she might at hers. In his lifetime, a man lives under fifteen or sixteen presidents, but a really fine teacher comes into his life but rarely.


Eisenhower wrote back to say that he understood.

Biographical Note: 

In 1947, after teaching for many years and working as an editor at the MacMillan Publishing Company, Michener published his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, which won a 1948 Pulitzer prize in fiction. In the course of the next forty-eight years Mr. Michener wrote such monumental best sellers as Sayonara, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Hawaii, The Source, Iberia, The Covenant, Centennial, Space, Texas, Alaska, Poland, and Caribbean. He taught writing courses and funded writing programs throughout the nation. He was the recipient of honorary doctorates in five fields from thirty leading universities. Decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, he was also recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and humanities for his continuing commitment to the arts in America.