Joseph Mitchell was born near Iona, North Carolina, in 1908, and came to New York City in 1929, when he was twenty-one years old. He eventually found a job as an apprentice crime reporter for The World. He also worked as a reporter and features writer at The Herald Tribune and The World-Telegram before landing at The New Yorker in 1938. "Joe Gould's Secret," which appeared on September 26th 1964, was the last piece Mitchell ever published. He went into work at The New Yorker almost every day for the next thirty-one years and six months but submitted no further writing.