Frequently Asked Questions and Updates

Flowers for Algernon

I wish it were possible to answer your specific questions about about Flowers for Algernon personally, but the large amount of mail I receive makes this physically impossible. It is partly for this reason that I've now written Algernon, Charlie and I: A Writer's Journey, which is the story behind the story  and a partial autobiography.  I'll try to  briefly answer some of the  most frequently asked questions here.

The idea for Flowers for Algernon came to me many years before I wrote the story or the novel. "What would happen if it were possible to increase human intelligence artificially?" The idea for the character came about four years later when I met and spoke to a retarded young man and thought how wonderful it would be if such a technique were available to help the mentally disadvantaged. But Charlie Gordon is not real, nor is he based on a real person: he is imagined or invented, probably a composite of many people I know -- including a little bit of me. After a great many false starts, I discovered the technique of the Progress Reports. With these three elements: the idea, the character, and the narrative strategy, I was well on my way. 

The short story was published in 1959 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, was reprinted many times in many languages and won the Hugo Award. In 1961, the U.S. Steel Hour telecast a dramatic version called "The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon," starring Cliff Robertson. From 1962 to 1965 I worked on the novel length version, which was published in 1966, won the Nebula Award, and is now still available in both hardcover and the Bantam paperback editions (Harcourt, Brace, 1966; Bantam, 1968). It has been widely translated and is studied in schools and colleges around the world.

Cliff Robertson won an "Oscar" for his performance in the 1968 movie version, "CHARLY." The novel was also adapted as a stage play, and after productions in France, Poland and in Japan, it was adapted with Japanese background for a Japanese production, and televised last year by NHK. Developed as a dramatic musical in 1979, "Charlie and Algernon" was performed at the Queen's theater in London's West End, starring Michael Crawford, and at the Terrace and Eisenhower theaters in Washington, D.C. and the Helen Hayes theater on Broadway.

 The new audiocassette (abridged) version of Flowers for Algernon is now available for purchase online from Recorded Books (

Made for TV production of Flowers for Algernon aired on CBS February 20th 2000. According to an April 22, 1999 article in Variety, "...Kelli Williams ('The Practice') has joined Matthew Modine in the CBS telefilm 'Flowers for Algernon,' based on the Daniel Keyes story."  Also featured were Bonnie Bedelia and Ron Rifkin. It is now available on DVD.

New paperback edition of
Flowers for Algernon

and paperback edition of Daniel Keyes'  autobiographical 

Algernon, Charlie and I: A Writer's Journey
are now available. Check your favorite local or online bookstore!

The Touch
Daniel Keyes' second novel has been republished 
with a  new preface and additional material by the author.

The Asylum Prophecies
New novel by Daniel Keyes now available in stores.

The Minds of Billy Milligan and The Milligan Wars

Thousands of readers around the world have asked: "What ever happened to Billy?"

After ten years of being transferred from one maximum security hospital to another (Lima, Dayton, Columbus, back to Athens, then Masillon and Columbus again), Billy Milligan was finally pronounced fused, "no longer suffering from a mental disorder," and was discharged from the Ohio mental health system and the Ohio courts, on August 1, 1991.

So much happened during the years since the book was published: (Billy's ill-fated marriage; his escape and the nationwide hunt to capture him; his continuing battles with the media, the politicians and the system); that I wrote a sequel entitled The Milligan Wars. It was published in Japan in 1994, and both books were highly acclaimed there. Bantam expects to publish the sequel when "The Crowded Room," a feature film based on the first book is released to the theaters.

The Minds of Billy Milligan is back in print! Check your local bookstores. 

"The Crowded Room" has been in the works at Warners for many years. Several young actors have shown interest in the major role, including: John Cusack, Brad Pitt, Billy Crudup, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn,  Leonardo DiCaprio, and Colin Farrell.  Several directors have also been attached to the film over the years. As of  December 2006, word is that Joel Shumacher is set to direct The Crowded Room  with a projected release date  of 2008. Please check back for updates!

When "The Crowded Room" is finally filmed and released, American readers will be able to read The Milligan Wars, and learn the answer to "Whatever happened to Billy?"

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Updated January, 2010