Irving Stone was known for his biographical novels of famous historical personalities, including Lust for Life, a biographical novel about the life of Vincent van Gogh, and The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel about Michelangelo.
The original name of Irving Stone was Irving Tennenbaum. He was born on July 14, 1903 in San Francisco and died on Aug. 26, 1989 in Los Angeles.
In 1934—after being rejected by 17 publishers—Lust for Life was finally accepted and published. Stone termed his work “bio-history.” Through meticulous and exhaustive research, he verified and expanded his preconception of a selected historical character. Then, by immersing himself in the subject’s native environment and reading all available original documents, from letters and diaries to research notes and household accounts, he acquired the basis for imaginary or reconstructed dialogue.
In addition to Lust for Life, Stone’s many popular works include Clarence Darrow for the Defense (1941); They Also Ran (1943), biographies of 19 defeated presidential candidates; Immortal Wife (1944), the story of Jesse Benton Frémont, wife of the explorer John Frémont; President’s Lady (1951), based on the life of Rachel Jackson, wife of the seventh U.S. president; Love Is Eternal (1954), a fictionalized account of the marriage of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln; The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961), a life of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo; The Passions of the Mind (1971), about Sigmund Freud; and The Origin (1980), a life of Charles Darwin centered on the voyage of the Beagle and its aftermath.
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