Son of Averette Nance Mitchell and Elizabeth A. Parker.
Author, Journalist, Reporter/Artist. He is best known for his New Yorker magazine profiles, and the book, "Joe Gould's Secret", made into a 2000 film with Stanley Tucci and Ian Holm. Joseph Quincy Mitchell was born on his maternal grandparents' farm near Iona, North Carolina. He grew up in nearby Fairmont, a tobacco town. His father grew and traded tobacco, and never really understood his son's later journalism. He studied at the University of North Carolina from 1925 to 1929, and wrote for the Chapel Hill Weekly and Daily Tar Heel. In the summer of 1929, he read James Bryce's "American Commonwealth," and decided to be a political reporter. He wrote an article on tobacco in Robeson county, and sent it to The New York Herald Tribune. They published it, called him to New York, and found him a job at The New York World. For the next nine years, he worked as a reporter and feature writer for The Morning World, The Herald Tribune, and The World-Telegram. At The World-Telegram, he interviewed Albert Einstein, Bing Crosby, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Durante, Fats Waller, George M. Cohan and George Bernard Shaw. A selection of his feature stories appeared in his first book,"My Ears are Bent"(1938). He covered the waterfront, the Fulton Fish Market, Long Island clammers, and Staten Island oystermen. He believed there were no "little people." He respected people on the fringes, and wrote about street preachers, Bowery bums, bartenders, prodigies, and unsung angels of mercy. In 1938, he was hired at The New Yorker magazine, and remained there till his death in 1996. Selections of his New Yorker stories were published in his books: "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon"(1943); "Old Mr. Flood"(1948); "The Bottom of the Harbor"(1960); and "Joe Gould's Secret"(1965). "Joe Gould's Secret" is about a Harvard-educated "lost soul" in Greenwich Village, homeless and unemployed for most of thirty-five years. Gould claimed he was writing the "Oral History of our Times." Mitchell wrote the Gould story in two parts. The first part,"Professor Sea Gull," appeared in the New Yorker's December 12, 1942 issue. The final part, twenty years later, was in the September 19 and 26, 1964 issues as "Joe Gould's Secret." He also wrote fictional pieces about North Carolna: "The Downfall of Fascism in Black Ankle County"(1939); "Uncle Dockery and the Independant Bull"(1939); and "I Blame it All on Mama"(1940). He never published again after 1964, and refused to allow his five books to be reprinted for decades. He remained active with many historic, preservation organizations in New York City. He was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970. He often returned to Fairmont, North Carolina. In 1992, he allowed four of his books to be reprinted in a large collection entitled,"Up in the Old Hotel." His earliest book, "My Ears are Bent," was also reprinted. "Up in the Old Hotel" made the New York Times Bestseller List on September 20, 1992. He loved walking through graveyards and reading tombstone inscriptions. Joseph Mitchell died of cancer in Manhatten at the age of eighty-seven.
(Special acknowlegement to Matthew Fleagle's wonderful, two-part article in January magazine,"His Own Sweet Time: Joseph Mitchell's Omnibus 20 Years On" 8/15/2012)
Source by Tom Bernstein (#48391070)
JOSEPH QUINCY MITCHELL
BORN NEAR FAIRMONT ON HIS MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER'S FARM
JULY 27, 1908
DIED IN NEW YORK CITY
HIS HOME FOR SIXTY-SIX YEARS
MAY 24, 1996
BELOVED SON OF AVERETTE NANCE MITCHELL AND ELIZABETH AMANDA PARKER MITCHELL
BELOVED HUSBAND FOR FORTY-NINE YEARS OF THERESE DAGNY ENGLESTED JACOBSEN MITCHELL
BELOVED FATHER OF NORA THERESE DAGNY MITCHELL SANDBORN AND ELIZABETH KRISTIN MITHCELL CURTIS
BARE RUINED CHOIRS WHERE LATE THE BIRDS SANG.