Biography: John Updike
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Biography: John Updike

John Hoyer Updike, better known as John Updike was an American writer, poet, literary critic, and novelist, and was born March 18, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his Rabbit series which earned the Pulitzer Prize. John Updike is also known for depicting American middle class life as well as his usage of description in his poetry and stories such as “A&P “and “Dog’s Death”.

John Hoyer Updike, better known as John Updike is an American writer, poet, literary critic, and novelist, and was born March 18, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania.  He is best known for his Rabbit series which earned the Pulitzer Prize.  John Updike is also known for depicting American middle class life as well as his usage of description in his poetry  stories such as “A&P “and “Dog’s Death”. 

John Updike was the only child of Wesley Russell Updike and Linda Grace Hoyer.  One source says that Wesley Updike was a  mathematics teacher while another source claims that he was a high school science teacher.  John’s mother Linda Updike was an aspiring writer, and her influence played a major influence in John’s life.

John’s mother encouraged him to write and draw.  John also read popular fiction, humor, and mysteries.  John Updike excelled in school and graduated valedictorian and class president from Shllington high school in 1950.  For the first three summers after high school, John worked as a copy boy at the Reading Eagle, and produced feature stories for the paper.  John attended Harvard University and graduated in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in English.  While attending Harvard, Updike was a profile writer, regular contributor, and president of the “Harvard Lampoon.”

Updike’s initial goal was to become a cartoonist.  To pursue this goal, he enrolled into The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University.  After finishing school, he returned to the United States and became a regular contributor at The New Yorker .  “Friends from Philadelphia” was one of the first stories published by The New Yorker.  John Updike continued as a staff writer at The New Yorker for two years contributing editorials, features, and reviews.

In 1957, Updike and his wife Mary E. Pennington decided to move their growing family to the small town of Ispwich, Massachusetts.   He continued to write for the New Yorker, but resolved to support his family by writing full time without taking a salaried position.  He rented out a one room  office over a restaurant in Ispwich, where he wrote six days a week. 

John Updike moved to Boston where he briefly taught at Boston University.  John and Mary divorced, and John married Martha Ruggles Bemhard in 1977.  John and Martha moved with their three children to Georgetown, Massachusetts. 

In 1968, Updike published a novel entitled Couples  which depicts young married couples and the complications of their lives. 

Throughout John Updike’s writing career, he became highly respected poet.  He is well known for his volumes of poetry such as Telephone Poles and Other Poems (1963), Midpoint (1969), and Tossing and Turning (1977).  

At age 32, John Updike became the youngest person to be elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  George W.H. Bush presented Updike with the National Medal of Art in 1989, and George W. Bush awarded the National Medal of Humanities in 2003.  John Updike died on January 27, 2009 in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. 

Sources:

“John Updike Biography.”  Biography

“John Updike Biography-Academy of Achievement.”  Achievement.  

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