CNN reported Thursday that J.D. Salinger, author of such works as "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Nine Stories," died Wednesday evening at the age of 91 of natural causes.
A statement released Thursday by Salinger's family and his literary agent Phyllis Westberg said that Salinger's health "had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year." He reportedly did not suffer at the time of his death.
In recent years, Salinger had become a legend as a result of his constant quest for seclusion. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Salinger escaped the public eye to a 90-acre compound in New Hampshire shortly after the publication of "Catcher."
The New York Times relates Salinger's hermetic life to the fruition of the main character Holden's fantasies at the end of "Catcher." But due to the popularity and great meaning that Salinger's works have held for readers over the past 40 years, peace was never completely granted to the famous author.
In 1986, a suit over the publication of an unauthorized collection of short stories brought Salinger's case all the way to the Supreme Court. Then later, in both 1998 and 2000, Salinger's one-time lover Joyce Maynard and then Salinger's daughter Margaret published scathing biographies about their lives with the reclusive writer--pointing out the author's bizarre habits, diets, and obsessions.
At the same time, however, The New York Times portrays Salinger's life as long and colorful. He is regarded as one of the great American authors and extremely influential in the literary world.
Salinger is survived by his fourth wife Colleen O'Neill, his two children Margaret and Matthew, and three grandsons.