A Biography of David McCullough: From Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian to Passionate Writer

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David McCullough is an American historian, author, narrator, and lecturer. He has three Pulitzer Prizes for his books about the American Revolutionary War, the Wright brothers, and John Adams. His work has been published in more than 20 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies. Struck by a speech from one of his classes and inspired by his local library growing a community garden to raise money for new books, McCullough began writing at the age of 45. Now, almost 30 years later with nearly 30 books under his belt, David continues to write and remain just as dedicated as ever to his craft. In this article we’ll take a look at David McCullough’s biography from his early days to where he is today.

Early Life and Background

McCullough was born September 27, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His mother, Margaret Leahy McCullough, was a homemaker, and his father, William Henry McCullough, was an executive at the Pittsburgh Life Insurance Company. He has one younger brother, Thomas (born 1939). David was raised in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and earned a B.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. He was an athlete in high school, winning the State Steeplechase title as a sophomore. He also took a strong interest in music, starting to play the trumpet at age 13 with the Pittsburgh Civic Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Becoming a Historian

McCullough’s interest in history and his love for reading were sparked during the Great Depression. His ability to read at a young age meant he enjoyed reading the newspapers with his father, and he became a fan of the adventurous stories about explorers, pioneers, and the distant past. At the age of 8, he began to collect the biographies of famous scientists and inventors. He also took a strong interest in the American West and became an avid reader of American history. McCullough initially became interested in writing when he was a senior in high school. He and his friend Chet Killian decided to write a novel about the Three Musketeers and their adventures. The novel they wrote was never published, but it didn’t stop McCullough from pursuing a career in writing. In college, he double-majored in history and English, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1955.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Works

McCullough’s first book The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal (1968), earned him a reputation as a gifted writer and led to a contract with Simon & Schuster to write a series of biographies. His next book was Mornings on Horseback (1981), a biography of the legendary sports figure and founder of the Pony Express, Buffalo Bill Cody. The book was a critical success, winning McCullough his first of three Pulitzer Prizes. In 2000, he won another Pulitzer, this time for his biography of John Adams, a Founding Father who became the second president of the United States, with his third coming in 2011 for his book The Wright Brothers. The Wright Brothers was his third book about inventors and scientists, and it follows the lives of Orville and Wilbur Wright, two timid and curious boys from Dayton, Ohio, who became two of the most influential people in the history of flight.

Passionate Writer

McCullough’s first two books were biographies, but he is most known for his award-winning books about the American Revolutionary War. His first book about the war, The Path Between the Seas, was a history of the building of the Panama Canal. His other books about the Revolutionary War include The Great Bridge (1972), a history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1776 (1976), a dramatic narration of the events of the year, and John Adams (2002), a biography of Adams’s early life and his role in the formation of the United States. McCullough has said his love for history dates back to his childhood, and “the world has always been full of wonder and excitement for me.” “I think the reason I write history books is because I’m very drawn to people,” he says. “I like to explore the lives of people in different times and places; I like to see what was happening in those times and how people were affected by it.”

Advice for Aspiring Writers

One of the most important aspects of becoming a writer is to write often, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Another piece of advice from McCullough is to read as much as you can, and read as many different kinds of books as you can. “There are two sorts of writers,” McCullough said. “There are those who read constantly, not just for pleasure but to learn their craft and those who don’t read at all.” It’s also important to get feedback on your work as early as possible, because you can’t improve as a writer if you don’t know what needs improving. If you have writer friends, get feedback from them. If you don’t have writer friends, you can also send your work to organizations like Writer’s Digest.

Conclusion

avid McCullough has been an author and historian for over 50 years, and he has won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work. His love for history began when he was a child and reading about adventurous explorers. When he was older, he decided to pursue a career as a writer and historian, and his first book, The Path Between the Seas, earned him a reputation as a gifted writer. He has since written many books about various periods in American history and has become one of the most well-known historical authors in the world. His best-known works are about the American Revolutionary War. They include The Path Between the Seas, 1776, and John Adams. McCullough’s books are known for their vivid language, strong narrative voice, and thorough research. His books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

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