William Saroyan was born onAugust 31, 1908 in Fresno,California to Armenak and TakoohiSaroyan, Armenian immigrantsfrom Bitlis, Ottoman Empire. Hisfather came to New York in 1905and started preaching in ArmenianApostolic ChurchesAt the age of three, after his fathers death,Saroyan, along with his brother and sister,was placed in an orphanage in Oakland,California. He later went on to describe hisexperience in the orphanage in his writings.Five years later, the family reunited in Fresno,where his mother, Takoohi, had alreadysecured work at a cannery.
Saroyan decided to become a writer after his mother showed him some of hisfathers writings. A few of his early short articles were published inOverland MonthlyMany of Saroyans stories were based on his childhood experiencesamong the Armenian-American fruit growers of the San Joaquin Valleyor dealt with the rootlessness of the immigrant. The short storycollection My Name is Aram (1940), an international bestseller, wasabout a young boy and the colorful characters of his immigrantfamily. It has been translated into many languages.
As a writer, Saroyan made his breakthrough in Story magazine with TheDaring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934), the title takenfrom the nineteenth century song of the same title. The protagonist is ayoung, starving writer who tries to survive in a Depression-riddensociety.
Saroyan is probably best remembered for his play The Time of YourLife (1939), set in a waterfront saloon in San Francisco. It wona Pulitzer Prize, which Saroyan refused on the grounds thatcommerce should not judge the arts; he did accept the New YorkDrama Critics Circle award. The play was adapted into a 1948 filmstarring James Cagney.
Before the war, Saroyan worked on the screenplay of GoldenBoy (1939), based on Clifford Odetss play, but he never had muchsuccess in Hollywood and after his disappointment with the HumanComedy film project, he never permitted any Hollywood screenadaptation of any of his novels regardless of his financial straits.
Saroyan has acorrespondence withwriter SanoraBabb that began in1932 and ended in 1941,that grew into anunrequited loveaffair on Saroyanspart.
personal life…Saroyan has a correspondence withwriter Sanora Babb that began in 1932and ended in 1941, that grew into anunrequited love affair on Saroyans part.In 1943, Saroyan married actress CarolMarcus (1924–2003; also known as CarolGrace), with whom he had twochildren, Aram, who became an authorand published a book about hisfather, and Lucy, who became anactress. By the late 1940s, Saroyansdrinking and gambling took a toll on hismarriage, and in 1949, upon returningfrom an extended European trip, he filedfor divorce. They were remarried brieflyin 1951 and divorced again in 1952 withMarcus later claiming in herautobiography, Among the Porcupines:A Memoir, that Saroyan was abusive.Carol subsequently marriedactor Walter Matthau.