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John Updike

By

John Updike

© Martha Updike

Birth:

John Updike was born March 18, 1932 in Reading, PA

John Updike's Background :

John Updike spent his early childhood in small towns outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. His father was a high school science teacher, and his mother was a writer, who encouraged the young Updike in his own writing and drawing. Updike was a serious student and worked at a local newspaper, the Reading Eagle, during high school.


Updike attended Harvard on scholarship, where he majored in English and both wrote and drew for the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. Updike married Mary Pennington, and in 1954, at the age of 22, he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and sold a poem and a short story to The New Yorker magazine.


Updike and his wife moved to England where he studied graphic arts at Oxford's Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. While there, Updike met writers E.B. White and Katharine White, two editors from The New Yorker, who convinced Updike to return to the states and take a job as a staff writer at the magazine. After the birth of a son in 1957, the family moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts.

In 1976, Updike was divorced from his wife Mary. He remarried in 1977 and is the father of four children.

John Updike's Writing:

John Updike's first book of poetry, The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures, was published in 1958, and his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published in 1959. In 1960, Updike published Rabbit Run, the first of the "Rabbit" novels (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). The book was an instant success and established Updike's reputation as one of the most significant contemporary American novelists.


In 1963, Updike received the National Book Award for The Centaur, and the following year he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, a post that got him invited on a State Department sponsored cultural exchange tour of Eastern Europe.

In 1981, Rabbit is Rich received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and ten years later, Updike received a second Pulitzer for Rabbit at Rest. Updike was awarded both the National Medal of Art from President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1989 and the National Medal for the Humanities from George W. Bush in 2003.


Updike wrote and published over 60 books, including novels and collections of short stories, poetry, and essays. The Early Stories 1953-1975 was a large anthology of the author's short stories which won the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and in 2006 he was awarded the Rea Award for the Short Story. In 2006, Updike published Terrorist and in 2008, The Widows of Eastwick.

On January 27, 2009, John Updike died of lung cancer in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. He was 76.

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