November 13, 1935|
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Norman Bogner (November 13, 1935 –) is a New York Times Bestselling- author whose range of work has included several novels such as Seventh Avenue, The Deadliest Art, To Die in Provence and The Madonna Complex, as well as stage plays, and movie and television scripts. His writing career spans nearly 50 years, with his first novel, In Spells No Longer Bound, published in 1961 and his most recent novel, 99 Sycamore Place, published in 2009. By 2001, his books, which explore drama and intrigue as they play out between family members and lovers, had sold over 25 million copies worldwide.
Norman Bogner was born November 13, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, to Manny Bogner and Rose Schwartz. Bogner grew up in Brooklyn, New York, his parents divorcing in 1942. His mother, Rose, owned a store that sold ladies wear, while his father, Manny, owned a small chain of such shops.
As noted on his website, Bogner says he began reading at the age of three because of his love of sports. He wanted to be able to keep track of the scores, especially baseball, and so needed to be able to read to do that. He and his mother devised a game whereby he would see how many words he would come up using the names of his favorite teams: the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Yankees, and the New York Giants as well as other major league teams. Each day, when she came home from her shop, she checked how many words he had come up with that day and rewarded Bogner with up to a nickel, depending on how many words he had found. He then quickly moved on to reading the dictionary, the encyclopedia, and the bonus set of classics that came with the encyclopedias. He eventually joined the local library. He knew he wanted to be a writer as early as seven years old.
Because his parents were divorced and his mother ran a store and was gone most of the day, Norman Bogner was left mostly to himself. Besides reading and talking sports with his friends and family, he spent much of his time after school traveling around Manhattan, going to museums, exploring the city, and only checking in with his mother occasionally.
Being a divorcée was rare at the time, so Bogner’s mother’s virtue was called into question on several occasions and Bogner often felt the need to defend her honor, as well as himself from neighborhood and school yard bullies. Because of this and the Friday night fights which his father took him to see at Madison Square Garden, Bogner learned how to box. This experience also influenced some of his story lines, including, specifically, his book Arena (1979).
Rose eventually remarried when Norman Bogner was 12 years old, this time to Moe Friedman, a charming bookmaker and addicted gambler who held a running crap game in their home. When Moe was with them (and not in jail), Bogner met many different kinds of people from businessmen to gangsters to con artists and considered this aspect of his life an “invaluable part of [his] ongoing training as a writer.” 
As a teenager, Norman Bogner worked for a number of years at the catering business owned by the Friedman family. While working there he was the “chef’s dogsbody” in charge of all the grunt work including keeping an open can of beer ready for the chef at all times. Bogner was also in charge of delivering lunch to his stepfather on those occasions when Friedman was in jail and hadn’t been bailed out yet. According to Bogner, one day while taking Friedman’s pastrami sandwiches to him at the jail, Bogner bumped into a detective who was also his coach on the Police Athletic League (PAL). The policeman invited Bogner to sit in on a murder trial the policeman needed to attend. The surface reason for the murder was supposedly the ownership of a set of flatware, while the true reason ended up being jealousy over an affair. It was at this trial that Bogner picked up on how human drama and intrigue can complicate what appears to be straightforward and simple on the surface.
In 1953, Bogner began his college career attending University of Alabama through 1954, and then transferring to Syracuse University where he graduated with a B.A. in English and Humanities (cum laude) in 1957. Bogner went on to do graduate work in English at New York University and the New School for Social Research in 1958-59.
Turning down several teaching fellowships, Bogner chose to go to Europe to explore in person what he had learned in school. According to Bogner, after several trips with his father across the United States, he knew traveling in Europe was what he needed to learn more about the real people he was going to write about. While his mother encouraged him in this decision, his father basically turned his back on Bogner and refused to offer any financial or emotional support, if Bogner chose to be a writer and traveled in Europe, rather than staying in the United States to further his career as a lawyer, doctor, or professor. To earn the money he needed to follow through on his plan, this meant Bogner went back to doing the kitchen work he’d done at resorts and restaurants in the Catskill Mountains and at Cape Cod during the summers while in school. At this point, he worked “on the line” as a chef and saucier.
Starting his tour in Barcelona, Norman Bogner began his European education learning to speak a language that he knew how to read, yet had never used in any real setting. After finding friends to look out for him, a place to live, and settling in, he needed to find work to support himself. He ended up spending his mornings writing and his afternoons teaching English to prostitutes in a brothel where he had been befriended by some madams.
By 1961, Norman Bogner’s first novel, In Spells No Longer Bound, was published by Jonathan Cape, LTD, a British publishing company. As noted by Gale’s Literature Resource Library: “According to Susan R. Cox in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, he completed the novel in Spain and then got a job in a department store in England, ‘before leaving his precious manuscript in the front office of the only London publishing house he'd heard of.’”
When his book was published, he was asked to stay on at Jonathan Cape as an editor from 1960 to 1961, and editorial manager from 1962 to 1964. Among the authors whose works he edited were: John Fowles, Edna O'Brien, Ronald Harwood, Arnold Wesker, C. Day Lewis, and A.W. Lawrence. In addition, he also edited Derek Walcott's first volume of poetry, two novels by Claude Simon, and Alan Paton's book of short stories, Debbie Go Home.
From 1964 to 1966, Bogner was story editor for “Armchair Theatre” at ABC Television Ltd. (later named Thames-TV) in Teddington, England. While there, Bogner was responsible for over 100 hours of network television. He also discovered and commissioned a number of then-unknown writers, including Tom Stoppard, Alan Ayckbourn, Charles Wood, and Dennis Potter. It was also at this time that he wrote The Waiters, a stage play, directed and produced by Giles Havergal, and The Match, a television play directed by Don Leaver for ABC-TV. In 1967, he wrote the screenplay for Privilege.
Bogner’s breakthrough novel, the first to hit the bestsellers lists was Divorce, in 1966. A publisher in the United States picked it up, renamed it Seventh Avenue and published it in 1967 where it soon made the New York Times Bestseller’s list and was eventually made into a television miniseries in 1977. With the success of Seventh Avenue, Norman Bogner was able to concentrate on writing full time.
Other works Bogner published while living in England include: Spanish Fever, Longmans, Green (London), 1963, reprinted, New English Library (London), 1978; The Madonna Complex, Coward, 1968, revised edition, Forge (New York), 2000; Making Love, W.H. Allen (London), 1971; and The Hunting Animal, Morrow (New York City), 1974.
By 1975, Norman Bogner had returned to the United States, making his home in Los Angeles, California. He continued writing, publishing Snowman (Dell, New York, 1978) and Arena (Delacorte, New York, 1979). In 1981, he published California Dreamers saying, “I’d been wanting to write a book about Southern California … It’s taken me six years to get a fix on the area, to understand the way things work here.”
For the next 15 years Bogner worked as a script doctor in the film and television industry, not coming out with another novel until 1998 when he published To Die in Provence (Forge, New York, 1998). This was soon followed by Honor Thy Wife (Forge, New York 1999), and then The Deadliest Art in 2001, a sequel to To Die in Provence. 
Bogner’s most current novel is 99 Sycamore Place (Brick Tower, New York, 2009).
On November 15, 1959, Norman Bogner married Felice Gordon (fashion designer, writer, publicist). They had three children: Jonathan Scott, Nicholas Sean and Alexander Evan. Norman and Felice Bogner were divorced April 1, 1975. On June 6, 1975, Norman Bogner married Lorraine Latham. They were married for 14 years before divorcing in 1989. In 1991, he married Bettye J. McCartt (talent and literary agent), who passed away August 9, 2013.
Series with Michel Danton
To Die in Provence (1998)
The Deadliest Art (2001)
Stand alone novels
In Spells No Longer Bound (1961)
Spanish Fever (1963)
Seventh Avenue (1967)
The Madonna Complex (1968)
Making Love (1971)
The Hunting Animal (1974)
California Dreamers (1981)
Honour Thy Wife (1999)
99 Sycamore Place (2009)
Various book descriptions
The Madonna Complex (1968) is the story of an obsessed billionaire and the woman he wishes to possess. Teddy Franklin who is accustomed to getting his way in business, meets United Nations translator Barbara Hickman and finds out that he can’t have everything he desires. The climax occurs in the Canadian wilderness where Teddy must rely on Barbara to save him from the police.
California Dreamers (1981) follows the intertwining love lives of three ambitious women who live in Los Angeles. One is a buyer at a department store, one the daughter of a real estate developer, and the third is an aspiring actress.
To Die in Provence (1998), is a thriller about a psychotic serial killer who is terrorizing the French countryside. French police officer, Michel Danton. begins to suspect an American ex-porn star and his wealthy girlfriend.
Honor Thy Wife (1999) is the story of a lawyer, Terry Brett, and how he deals with the return of a lost love, Allison Desmond, who brings along a son Brett never knew he had. Her return brings up conflict between this past family and his current one, as he tries to remain true to both families.
The Deadliest Art (2001) follows Michel Danton once again as he follows he tries to track down someone who is tattooing young teenage girls, willing or not.
99 Sycamore Place (2009) is the story of Rebecca Benjamin as she attempts to track down a neo-Nazi group who murdered her sister right before her sister’s wedding. Rebecca gives up her career as a concert pianist, striking a bargain with Douglas Horne, a former lion hunter, to work together to solve the crime.
"Armchair Theatre" (1 episode- The Match, 1966)
"Emerald Soup" (1963) TV series (story editor)
A Cold Peace (1965) TV episode (script editor)
The Paraffin Season (1965) TV episode (script editor)
I Took My Little World Away (1965) TV episode (script editor)
The Keys of the Cafe (1965) TV episode (story editor)
"Armchair Mystery Theatre" (script editor) (2 episodes, 1965)
The Lodger (1965) TV episode (script editor)
Man and Mirror (1965) TV episode (script editor)
Boys and Girls Come out to Play
The Man from Esher
- “Norman Bogner.” (2001). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Literature Resources from Gale.
- Norman Bogner: One Writer’s Education: http://www.normanbogner.com/edu.html
- “Norman Bogner.” (2002). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Literature Resources from Gale.
- “Norman Bogner Papers.” (1970). Syracuse University: http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/b/bogner_n.htm
- Locht, Dick. (1981) Book Notes: Bogner unravels a local yarn. Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1981, p. N2.
- Pitt, David. (2001). “The Deadliest Art.” Review. Booklist. July, 2001. Vol. 97, no. 21, p. 1985.
- “Felice Gordon.” (2002). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale Resource Library.
- “Lorraine Latham.” (2007). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale Resource Library.
“Norman Bogner Papers.” (1970). Syracuse University: http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/b/bogner_n.htm
Norman Bogner:One Writer’s Education: http://www.normanbogner.com/edu.html
Privilege (1967): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062155/
Seventh Avenue (mini-series) (1977): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075580/
Interview on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/v/m9Ket14OsOo