Familiar names -- Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Cheever, John Irving, Garry Wills, Peter Matthiessen, William Manchester -- stud the nominations for the 1979 National Book Awards, to be selected April 23.

The categories, authors and nominees are:

Biography and Autobiography: Donald Hall, "Remembering Poets: Reminiscences and Opinions"; William Manchester, "American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964"; William M. Murphy, "Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats (1839-1922)"; Phyllis Rose, "Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf"; Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., "Robert Kennedy and His Times."

Children's Literature: Lloyd Alexander, "The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha"; Vera and Bill Cleaver, "Queen of Hearts"; Sid Fleischman, "Humbug Mountain"; Paula Fox, "The Little Shepherd and Other Tales"; Katherine Paterson, "The Great Gilly Hopkins."

Contemporary Thought: Kenneth E. Boulding, "Stable Peace"; Ivan Doig, "This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind"; Alfred Kazin, "New York Jew"; Peter Matthiessen, "The Snow Leopard"; Meyer Schapiro, "Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries."

Fiction: John Cheever, "The Stories of John Cheever"; John Irving, "The World According to Garp"; Diane Johnson, "Lying Low"; Tim O'Brien, "Going After Cacciato"; David Plante, "The Family."

History: Reinhard Bendix, "Kings or People: Power and the Mandate to Rule"; Gordon A. Craig, "Germany 1866-1945"; Richard Beale Davis, "Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763"; John H. White Jr., "The American Railroad Passenger Car"; Garry Wills, "Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence."

Poetry: Robert Hayden, "American Journal"; Sandra McPherson, "The Year of Our Birth"; James Merrill, "Mirabelle: Books of Number"; Philip Schultze, "Like Wings"; May Swenson, "New & Selected Things Taking Place."

Translation: Jonathan Chaves, "Yuan Hung-tao's Pilgrim of the Clouds: Poems and Essays from Ming China"; Clayton Eshleman and Jose Rubia Barcia, "Cesar Vallejo's The Complete Posthumous Poetry"; June Guicharnaud, "Pierre-Jakez Helias's The Horse of Pride: Life in a Breton Village"; Richard Howard, "Roland Barthes's A Lover's Discourse: Fragments"; Reynolds Price, "A Palpable God: Thirty Stories From the Bible With an Essay on the Origins and Life of Narrative."