The title of James A. Michener’s 1992 memoir, The World Is My Home, gives a pertinent focus to biographical information about this citizen of the United States, whose life and works have taken him to all corners of the earth.
James Albert Michener was born February 3, 1907; the location of his birth and the names of his biological parents are not known. He was raised by Mabel Michener, widow of a man named Edwin Michener, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. James calls Mabel ‘‘one of those great women who serve in silence but leave behind a legacy that glows forever’’ (World, 477). As a teenager, she had served as mother to her five younger brothers and sisters when their mother died. After her husband’s death in 1902, she took in a dozen or so abandoned children over the years, earning a small sum from a local charity organization.
Mabel also earned meager amounts by taking in laundry and finishing shirts brought to her from Philadelphia. James had the job of visiting the neighbors to pick up the dirty clothes for his foster mother to launder. When illness struck the family from time to time, young James lived in the county poorhouse. Material possessions were lacking, but the children under Mabel Michener’s care knew love and laughter in their home: ‘‘Despite the anguish we suffered at times, we did not live tragic lives; laughter, not tears, surrounded me’’ (World, 496).
Although he may not have had a bicycle or wagon, books and music