Dan Wakefield (born 1932) is an American novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His best-selling novels, Going All the Way (1970) and Starting Over (1973) were made into feature films. Amongst his other notable works include Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (1959), the pioneering survey of Spanish Harlem, a Puerto Rican settlement in New York and New York in the Fifties (1992), based on the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village, which lead to a documentary film in 2001 .
Presently, he is Writer in Residence at Florida International University in Miami
Dan Wakefield was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, where his family lived in the Broad Ripple Village area.
He studied at Shortridge High School, where he was an Eagle Scout, and began his writing career as a columnist of school newspaper, The Shortridge Daily Echo, also served as sports correspondent for The Indianapolis Star, before passing out in 1950. The school finds mentioned in his novel Going All The Way (1970) .
He left Indianapolis in 1952 for New York City, where he graduated from Columbia College, with B.A. (English) in 1955, after studying the class of noted Professor of English, Mark Van Doren .
He started his career as freelance journalist in New York, writing for The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly, and GQ, he also worked as staff writer with The Nation for several years. Here he came in touch with several Beat Generation writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg , before settling in Boston; his subsequent memoir, New York in the 50s (1992), about this period became the basis of a documentary film by the same name in 2001, by Betsy Blankenbaker. By the 1960s, he had published two notable books, Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (1959), an account of life in Puerto Rican Harlem, and Revolt in the South (1961), a collection of his reports on the civil rights movement, and according to the New York Times, he was "acknowledged to be one of the country's most perceptive and sensitive independent commentator-reporters" .
Amongst his notable, non-fiction works include, All Her Children: The Making of a Soap Opera, and Supernation at Peace and War, which first appeared as the entire issue of The March, 1968 Atlantic Monthly
He also created James at 15, a TV series aired on NBC (1977—1978).
Over the past two decades, he has taught fiction writing at several universities, including Boston University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, Emerson College, and The Iowa Writers Workshop.
His recent book, The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography, is an extension of the workshops he leads that advises people in getting touch with their spiritual lives by writing about their own life experiences.
Dan became an atheist in college, and did not return to church until 1980 when he went to a Christmas Eve service at King's Chapel, Boston. Subsequently, he took a writing course, by church's minister, Carl Scove, titled “Religious Autobiography”, which lead to the piece, Returning to Church published in New York Times Magazine, and later his book Returning: A Spiritual Journey.