Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy 110th Birthday, John O'Hara!
January 31, 1905-April 11, 1970

Novelist and short-story writer John O’Hara was born in 1905 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in the state’s northeastern anthracite coal region. This month we celebrate O’Hara’s 110th birthday, as well as the 60th anniversary of the appearance of his novel Ten North Frederick, published in 1955 by Random House. The book was his greatest critical and popular success, appearing on the best-seller lists for thirty-two weeks and selling 65,703 copies in its first two weeks. In 1956 Ten North Frederick won the National Book Award for fiction.

O’Hara left Pennsylvania as a young man, but beginning with his first novel, Appointment in Samarra (1934), he set five novels and more than fifty short stories in what he called “my Pennsylvania Protectorate.” The characters of his fictional town of Gibbsville were the miners and poor immigrants, the country-club set, and the college-bred elite of his hometown. 10 North Frederick is the address of a house in the prosperous little city of Gibbsville. Its owner, the distinguished attorney Joseph Chapin, nurtures a secret desire to be President of the United States. The character of Chapin was played by Gary Cooper in the 1958 film of the same name.

O’Hara’s original study in Princeton, New Jersey, was faithfully recreated at Penn State in 1974, as the gift of his widow. The study and its contents is a memorial to the writer and a repository for O’Hara’s considerable legacy of books, manuscripts, letters, and memorabilia.

For information about visiting the O’Hara Study or consulting the John O’Hara Papers, email ( or call the Special Collections Library (814-865-1793).

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