image imageLiterature Guides

Key Facts about Flowers for Algernon

Key Facts

According to Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon is a product of 14 years of thought formation.

Keyes first published Flowers for Algernon as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction  in 1959 and won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story.

The novel only came as an extended and more in depth version of the short story after its success and was published in 1966 and won the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

Keyes was meant to publish Flowers for Algernon with Galaxy Science Fiction but chose not to after being pressured numerous times to alter the ending into a happy one in which Charlie would keep his intelligence.

The influence of psychology and the theory of psychoanalysis is quite evident in the novel, that is due to Keyes’ being a psychology graduate himself.

The novel was adapted into numerous films, the most famous is Charly directed by Ralph Nelson. Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award for Best Actor for playing the role of Charly.

Although Keyes admits that Charlie is not modelled after a real person, he believes the character of Charlie is the product of his numerous encounters with adults who have a fairly low IQ in his profession teaching mentally challenged adults.

The novel was banned in numerous libraries in the United States due to its sexually explicit content.