- To be distinguished from Irving I. Stone, philanthropist
Irving Stone (born Tannenbaum, July 14, 1903, San Francisco, California – August 26, 1989, Los Angeles) was an American writer 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.
When he was only seven, Stone's parents divorced. By the time he was a senior in high school his mother had remarried. Stone legally changed his last name to that of his stepfather. Stone said that it was his mother who instilled a passion for reading in him. From then on he believed that education was the only way to succeed in life.
In 1923, Stone received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, which many years later (1960), granted him an honorary Doctorate of Letters. Berkeley. After receiving his M.A., he was a Teaching Assistant in English, the position in which he met his first wife, Lona Mosk (1905-1965). On money provided by her father, Los Angeles businessman, Ernest Mosk, the young couple went to Paris.
Irving and Lona returned to America in the 1930s from Europe, where he had been researching Van Gogh for six months. In 1931 they resided in New York's Greenwich Village where he finished Lust for Life, the biographical novel which would set his career in motion, according to the NY Times obituary of August 28, 1989. According to the obituary, Lust for Life (the title suggested by his first wife) was rejected by seventeen publishers over three years before being published in 1934. Stone's first marriage ended in New York, As Lona Mosk, later told her son, James Earnest Packer, "I got bored having to sit around all day telling Irving how wonderful he was!" Stone took up with his secretary, Jean (subsequently Jean Stone), and, after the divorce from his first wife, they were married.
This later marriage lasted until Stone's death in 1989 , and during their years together, Jean edited many of his works. The Stones lived primarily in Los Angeles, California. During their lifetime, he and his wife funded a foundation to support charitable causes they believed in.
When at home, Stone relied upon the research facilities and expertise made available to him by Esther Euler, head research librarian of the University of California at Los Angeles, to whom he dedicated and thanked, in addition to many others, in several of his works.
Stone's main source for Lust for Life, as noted in the afterword, were Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. Stone additionally did much of his research "in the field". For example, he spent many years living in Italy while working on The Agony and the Ecstasy. The Italian government lauded Stone with several honorary awards during this period for his cultural achievements highlighting Italian history.
Stone's 1975 book The Greek Treasure was the basis for the German television production Der geheimnisvolle Schatz von Troja (Hunt for Troy) in 2007.
- Lust for Life (1934) – based on the life of Vincent van Gogh
- Sailor on Horseback (1938) – based on the life of Jack London.
- Clarence Darrow For the Defense (1941) – biography of Clarence Darrow
- They Also Ran (1944, updated 1966) – based on candidates who were defeated for U.S. President
- Immortal Wife (1944) – based on the life of Jessie Benton Frémont
- Adversary in the House (1947) – based on the life of Eugene V. Debs and his wife Kate, who opposed socialism
- Earl Warren (1948) – biography of Earl Warren
- The Passionate Journey (1949) – based on the life of American artist John Noble
- The President's Lady (1950) – based on the life of American president Andrew Jackson and his marriage to Rachel Donelson Jackson.
- Love is Eternal (1954) – based on the marriage of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd
- Men to Match My Mountains (1956) – based on the opening of the Far West, 1840–1900
- The Agony and the Ecstasy – (1961) – based on the life of Michelangelo
- Those Who Love (1965) – based on the life of John Adams and Abigail Adams
- The Passions of the Mind (1971) – based on the life of Sigmund Freud
- The Greek Treasure (1975) – based on the discovery of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann
- The Origin (1980) – based on the life of Charles Darwin
- Depths of Glory (1985) – based on the life of Camille Pissarro
- Verbal account (1963) by Lona Mosk Packer to son James Packer
- Kate Debs seemed to have been so hostile to Debs's socialist activities – it threatened her sense of middle-class respectability – that novelist Irving Stone was led to call her, in the title of his fictional portrayal of the life of Debs, the Adversary in the House. (Daniel Bell, Marxian Socialism in the United States, footnote on page 88)