1941

In April, is accepted to the editorial board of the college’s literary magazine, The Harvard Advocate, which that same month publishes “The Greatest Thing in the World.” In late spring, it wins Story magazine’s eighth annual college contest and a $100 prize, and gains some attention from New York publishers. In May, he is elected to the Signet Society, a merit-based luncheon club. In September, completes “No Percentage,” a novel (408 manuscript pages) set in Long Branch and Brooklyn, still unpublished.

In mid-December, meets his first wife, Beatrice Silverman, a Boston University music major who lives in nearby Chelsea.

Norman Mailer (1942)

in Days | 99 Words

41.1

“The Greatest Thing in the World.” Harvard Advocate, April, 3-6, 24-28. Story. Original title: “The Suckers and the Setup.”

1941

Written for Mailer’s sophomore writing class, English 1-A, taught by Robert Gorham David, who encouraged him to submit it to Story magazine’s eighth annual college contest under the name Norman K[ingsley]. Mailer. It won the first prize of $100. Mailer ceased using his middle initial and name after college, although he employed it once for his 1971 movie, “Maidstone: A Mystery” (71.28), in which the director-hero is called Norman T. Kingsley.

1941

Rpt: Story 19 (November-December), 17-26; Hold Your Breath: Suspense Stories, edited by Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Dell (no. 260), 1947; Story: The Fiction of the Forties, edited by Whit Burnett and Hallie Burnett. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1949; 59.13 (preceded by an introductory “advertisement”), 67.11, 82.19. See 75.14, 77.2, 83.10, 89.10, and the editorial in Harvard Crimson, 21 April, 2, the first published critical (and favorable) comment on Mailer’s work. See also 13.2, 35-38.
Mailer:

“…when I found out it had won—which was at the beginning of the summer after my sophomore year—well, that fortified me, and I sat down and wrote a novel. It was called No Percentage. It was just terrible. But I never questioned any longer whether I was started as a writer” (64.1).

1941