The legacy of JD Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, is to be greatly expanded with the release of five previously unpublished works, according to claims from a new biography and documentary.
Salinger, one of the giants of American literature despite his limited output, largely remained a mystery for half a century. The author, whose last original work was published in 1965 and who gave his last interview three decades ago, died in 2010 at the age of 91.
Yet a string of new revelations are promised by 'Salinger', the title of the forthcoming book and documentary, about an author whose only novel was banned before becoming required reading in US schools.
The new biographical works claim that the writer left instructions with his estate to publish five books after 2015. Some will be original, while others will be extended versions of previous works.
They will include work featuring Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, as well as new stories about the Glass family, who featured in Franny and Zooey and other collections. The works are also expected to include a novella based on his war experiences and a book set against the backdrop of World War II.
Shane Salerno, who spent nine years working on the film, and co-writer David Shields said they had “two independent and separate sources” who have verified the plans to publish the works. “He’s going to have a second act unlike any writer in history,” Mr Salerno told the New York Times. “There’s no precedent for this.”
The film is to be released by the Weinstein Company on 6 September, while the book is to be published three days earlier by Simon & Schuster.
The companies have marketed the works with a poster showing Salinger with a finger to his lips saying: “Uncover the Mystery but Don’t Spoil the Secrets!” Mirroring the author’s love of privacy, the film company has asked those seeing previews to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Salinger’s published work comprises one novel and 13 short stories. Yet in 1974, the author revealed he wrote daily, while members of his family said he carried on writing into his final years.
He said: “There is a marvellous peace in not publishing,” adding: “Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I live to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”
His last new work to be published was a novella called Hapworth 16, 1924 which appeared in the New Yorker in 1965. It was to be republished in the 1990s but the work was pulled after the news leaked.
The 700-page biography includes rare photographs and letters and closely covers the Second World War, which left him traumatised. It also shows his response to the success of The Catcher in the Rye.
When news of the book was released in January, the publisher Jonathan Karp said it would be “the foundational book on one of our most beloved and most puzzling figures of the 20th century”.
The book mixes new and old interviews – there are close to 200 – as well as quotes from Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal and even Mark David Chapman, who cited Catcher as the reason he shot John Lennon.
Salinger’s estate were not involved in the documentary or the book and have criticised the new research.