Michael Norris and David Richardson in Literary Kicks:
Salinger’s early life parallels that of Holden Caulfield. He grew up in Manhattan, and there he attended the McBurney School. He showed promise in drama, wrote for the school newspaper, and, like Holden, managed the fencing team. Nevertheless, McBurney expelled Salinger because of his failing grades. He then went to Valley Forge Military Academy near Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1936. It was at Valley Forge that he started writing stories.
After graduation from military school, Salinger bounced around, attending New York University for a year and working for a meat packing company in Vienna, Austria (at the urging of his father) until the eve of Austria’s annexation by Hitler in 1938. On his return to the States, he briefly attended Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, and then took a writing class at Columbia. His writing teacher was Whit Burnett, the editor of Story magazine. Burnett recognized Salinger’s talent, and accepted one of his stories, “The Young Folks”, for publication in the spring, 1940 issue of the magazine.
With one story successfully published, Salinger began submitting to The New Yorker. The magazine rejected most of these efforts, but did accept “Slight Rebellion off Madison” for publication in late 1941. However, due to the outbreak of World War II, and the content of the story, it did not appear in The New Yorker until 1946.
“Slight Rebellion off Madison” marks the first appearance of Holden Caulfield. It contains an early version of the Sally Hayes episode which appears in Catcher in the Rye.