James A. Michener (February 3, 1907? - October 16, 1997) was the American author of such books as Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. The majority of his over 40 titles are sweeping sagas covering the lives of many generations in a particular geographic locale and incorporate historical facts into the story as well. His non-fiction works include the 1992 memoir The World is My Home and Sports in America.
Michener wrote that he did not know who his parents were or exactly when and where he was born. He was raised by an adoptive mother, Mabel Michener, in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and some have argued that Mabel was in fact his biological mother. He graduated with highest honors from Swarthmore College, where he played basketball, in 1929. He later attended the Colorado State Teachers College (in Greeley, Colorado), earned his master's degree, then taught there for several years. He also taught at Harvard University. His writing career began during World War II, during which, as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, he was assigned to the South Pacific Ocean as a naval historian. His notes and impressions were later turned into Tales of the South Pacific, his first book, which was the basis for the Broadway and film musical South Pacific.
Michener met his wife Mari Yoriko Sabusawa at a luncheon in Chicago, and his novel Sayonara is pseudo-autobiographical.
On January 10, 1977, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald R. Ford.
In his final years, he lived in Austin, Texas, and, aside from being a a prominent celebrity fan of the Texas Longhorns women's basketball team, he founded an MFA program now named the Michener Center for Writers.