Erich Segal was born in Brooklyn in 1937, and graduated from Harvard with a Bachelors degree in 1958, a Masters degree in 1959, and his Doctorate in 1964. At commencement in 1958, he became the first person in Harvard history to be selected as both...read more
Erich Segal was born in Brooklyn in 1937, and graduated from Harvard with a Bachelors degree in 1958, a Masters degree in 1959, and his Doctorate in 1964. At commencement in 1958, he became the first person in Harvard history to be selected as both Latin Salutatory Orator and Class Poet. He taught at Harvard before moving to Yale in 1964 and has since been Visiting Professor in Classics at Princeton and the University of Munich. In 1987 he retired as Adjunct Professor of Classics at Yale and is now a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.In addition to his most important academic book, Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus (Harvard University Press, 2nd ed. rev Oxford) Professor Segal has published widely on Greek Tragedy, Latin Poetry and ancient athletics. He has delivered papers before the American Philological Association, The American Comparative Literature Association, as well as the German Italian and British Classical Societies.Over the past quarter-century, Segal?s verse translations of the Roman playwright Plautus have won considerable acclaim. His latest collection: Plautus: Four Comedies has just appeared in The Oxford World?s Classics series.But Erich Segal has also had a parallel, and more conspicuous, career in ?pop? literature. This began as a schoolboy hobby. He then collaborated on the famous Harvard Hasty Pudding Club show in 1958. While pursuing his PhD and beginning his academic career, he also wrote several screenplays--the most successful being The Beatles? 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. He spent his summers in Hollywood and his winters at Yale.But his quietly equilibrated existence was upset overnight in 1970, when his first novel was published. Love Story was an immediate sensation, ultimately selling more than twenty-one million copies in thirty-three languages. Even after twenty-five years, the book is still in print and selling well. The phrase ?Love means never having to say you?re sorry? has since become proverbial and is now listed in numerous books of quotations, including the canonical Bartlett?s.During this time, almost everyone has offered an opinion. The year it was published, President Nixon told a press conference that, although he liked the book, he objected to some of the vulgar language (this was before the Watergate tapes). Twenty years later, comedian Billy Crystal chose it as a Christmas present for President Bush. It was officially banned in the Soviet Union as ?decadent? and ?counter-revolutionary.? A pirated edition of Love Story even appeared in China (for circulation among member of the Party). In 1987 the film was finally shown in China, where the lines stretched for several miles to see it.For his screenplay to Love Story, Mr. Segal received the 1970 Golden Globe Award as well as one of the film?s seven Oscar nominations.Perhaps most importantly--at least to Mr. Segal--is that he enjoyed a conspicuously unsuccessful career as a long-distance runner and was at one time one of the world?s best known mediocre athletes. He completed over forty full-length marathons, winning only one: March 17, 1963 in Washington, DC. As fate would have it, The New York Times was on strike, but the Washington Post duly recorded the historic event.Erich Segal?s other bestselling novels include, The Class, Doctors, Acts of Faith, and Prizes. Segal is married and has two daughters and currently lives near Oxford, England.