Holden Caulfield (identified as "Holden Morrisey Caulfield" in the story "Slight Rebellion Off Madison" , and "Holden V. Caulfield" in The Catcher In The Rye) is a fictional character in the works of author J. D. Salinger. He's most famous for his appearance as the lead character and narrator of the 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. Since the book's publication, Holden has become an icon for teenage rebellion and angst, and is considered among the most important characters of 20th-century American literature. The name Holden Caulfield was initially used in an unpublished short story written in 1941 and first appeared in print in 1945.
Salinger's various stories (and one novel) featuring a character named Holden Caulfield do not share a cohesive timeline, and details about "Holden Caulfield" and his family are often inconsistent or completely contradictory from one story to another. Most notably, in some Salinger short stories "Holden Caulfield" is a soldier in WWII who was missing in action in 1944 -- something that is thoroughly impossible to have happened to the 16-year-old Holden Caulfield of The Catcher In The Rye, which is set in 1948 or '49.
Salinger's first published Holden Caulfield story, "I'm Crazy", appeared in Collier's on December 22, 1945. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the name "Holden Caulfield" was derived by Salinger from a marquee or poster for the film Dear Ruth, starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, but Dear Ruth was released in 1947 – more than a year-and-a-half after Holden Caulfield's first appearance in print, and more than six years after Salinger's first unpublished short story was written using this name for a character.