John Updike Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


John Updike

Birthday :

March 18, 1932

Died On :

January 27, 2009

Also Known For :


Birth Place :

Reading, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :


Childhood and Early Life

American writer John Updike was born on the 18 March 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania to Wesley Russell Updike and Linda Hoyer. He was an only child and spent his formative years Shillington and Plowville, Pennsylvania.



John Updike did his high schooling at Shillington High School (1950). He went to Harvard University on a scholarship and obtained a degree in English (1954). Updike then studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University in England.


Rise to Fame

John Updike ambition had been to be a cartoonist. When he returned from Britain, he lived in New York, and The New Yorker magazine accepted his editorials, articles, and poetry. He also worked as a literary critic.  His first book: The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures, a collection of verse, was published in 1958. The same year he had his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, published.



By the late 1950s, John Updike decided to focus on writing fiction full-time. Publications include Rabbit Run (1960) which is about a talented athlete who struggles with responsibilities and the boredom of life in a small town; The Centaur (1963) and Of the Farm (1965) followed. Other books in the Rabbit Run series including Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990). The final book in the series being Rabbit Remembered (2001).

Updike was a prolific writer, and other works include Couples (1968), Bech: A Book (1970), Marry Me (1976),  Bech is Back (1982), The Witches of Eastwick (1984), Memories of the Ford Administration: A Novel (1992), Gertrude and Claudius (2000), Terrorist (2006) and The Widows of Eastwick. In addition to novels, Updike continued writing short stories, and published collections include: The Same Door (1959), Museums and Women (1972), Trust Me (1987) and My Father’s Tears and Other Stories (2009). Some of these stories were published in John Updike: The Collected Stories (2013). He also published poetry and essays throughout his life.


Awards and Achievements

Over the decades John Updike won many awards including the National Institute of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award (1959),  the National Book Award for Fiction (1964), the O. Henry Prize (1966), the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1982), the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism (1983), the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (1987), the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1991), Honorary Doctor of Letters from Harvard University (1992). 

Other awards include Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1995), Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation (1998), Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature (2002), PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2004), the Read Award for the Short Story (2006) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction (2007). He was also nominated for the Man Booker Prize (2005).


Personal Life

John Updike's first wife was Mary Pennington (m.1953-div.1974). They had four children: Elizabeth (1955), David (1957), Michael (1959) and Miranda (1960). He married Martha Ruggles Bernhard in 1977. They remained married until his death on the 27 January 2009. He was 76 years of age and had been suffering from lung cancer.

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