Dan Wakefield

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Born (1932-05-21) May 21, 1932 (age 83)
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Occupation novelist, journalist, screenwriter
Alma mater Columbia University
Notable works Going All the Way (1970)
Starting Over (1973)
New York in the Fifties (1992)

Dan Wakefield (born 1932) is an American novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His best-selling novels, Going All the Way (1970) and Starting Over (1973) were made into feature films. Amongst his other notable works include Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (1959), the pioneering survey of Spanish Harlem, a Puerto Rican settlement in New York and New York in the Fifties (1992), based on the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village, which led to a documentary film in 2001.[1][2]

Presently, he is Writer in Residence at Florida International University in Miami.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Dan Wakefield was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, where his family lived in the Broad Ripple Village area.

He studied at Shortridge High School, where he was an Eagle Scout, and began his writing career as a columnist on the school newspaper, The Shortridge Daily Echo. He also served as sports correspondent for The Indianapolis Star. The school is mentioned in his novel Going All The Way (1970).[4][5]

He left Indianapolis in 1952 for New York City, where he was graduated from Columbia College, with B.A. (English) in 1955, after studying the class of noted Professor of English, Mark Van Doren.[6]


He started his career as freelance journalist in New York, writing for The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly, and GQ, he also worked as staff writer with The Nation for several years. Here he came in touch with several Beat Generation writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg,[1] before settling in Boston; his subsequent memoir, New York in the 50s (1992), about this period became the basis of a documentary film by the same name in 2001, by Betsy Blankenbaker.[3][7] By the 1960s, he had published two notable books, Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (1959), an account of life in Puerto Rican Harlem, and Revolt in the South (1961), a collection of his reports on the civil rights movement, and according to the New York Times, he was "acknowledged to be one of the country's most perceptive and sensitive independent commentator-reporters".[8]

Amongst his notable, non-fiction works include, All Her Children: The Making of a Soap Opera, and Supernation at Peace and War, which first appeared as the entire issue of The March, 1968 Atlantic Monthly [6]

He also created James at 15, a TV series aired on NBC (1977–1978).

Over the past two decades, he has taught fiction writing at several universities, including Boston University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, Emerson College, and The Iowa Writers Workshop.

His recent book, The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography, is an extension of the workshops he leads that advises people in getting touch with their spiritual lives by writing about their own life experiences.

Personal life[edit]

Dan became an atheist in college, and did not return to church until 1980 when he went to a Christmas Eve service at King's Chapel, Boston. Subsequently, he took a writing course taught by the church's minister, Carl Scovel, titled "Religious Autobiography", which led to the piece "Returning to Church", published in The New York Times Magazine, and later his book Returning: A Spiritual Journey. [3]




  • Island in the City (1959)
  • Revolt in the South (1962)
  • The Addict: An Anthology (1963)
  • Between The Lines (1965)
  • Supernation at Peace and War (1968)
  • Going All The Way (1970)
  • Starting Over (1973)
  • All Her Children: The Making of a Soap Opera (1975)
  • Home Free (1977)
  • Under The Apple Tree (1982)
  • Selling Out (1985)
  • Returning: A Spiritual Journey (1988)
  • The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography, (Beacon Press), (1990)
  • New York in the Fifties (1992)
  • Expect a Miracle (1995)
  • Creating from the Spirit (1996)
  • How Do We Know When It's God? (1999)
  • Releasing the Creative Spirit (SkyLight Paths Pub.), (2001)
  • Spiritually Incorrect: Finding God in All the Wrong Places, (SkyLight Paths), (2003)
  • The Hijacking of Jesus: How the Religious Right Distorts Christianity and Promotes Prejudice and Hate (Nation Books), (2006)
  • If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young (Seven Stories Press), (2014)

Movies and television[edit]


External links[edit]