Damon Runyon (1884-1946). A journalist and short-story writer, best remembered for his colourful tales of Broadway and for the distinctive style of his prose, commonly termed Runyonese.
Alfred Damon Runyon was born in 1884 at Manhattan, Kansas, the son of a printer. He grew up in Colorado and in his adolescence he wrote articles for the local newspapers. At the age of fourteen he enlisted in the Spanish-American War and served in the Philippines. He returned home in 1900 and worked on numerous newspapers in Colorado Springs, Denver and San Francisco, before getting the job of sportswriter for the New York American in 1911. During the First World War he became a war correspondent for the Hearst newspapers, with whom he continued as a columnist after the war. Runyon's stories are highly original and lively evocations of Broadway low-life and the New York sporting scene. They are light-hearted vignettes, peppered with Broadway slang and with 'types' rather than individuals, who have hearts of gold, but very little brain power. Initially collected in Guys and Dolls (1932), his other collections of stories include Blue Plate Special (1934) and Take It Easy (1938). He also wrote a comedy play, with Howard Lindsay, entitled A Slight Case of Murder (1935). Damon Runyon died in 1946.