John Updike - Writers, Timeline and Facts

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John Updike's Personal Details

John Updike was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century This biography of John Updike provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

InformationDetail
BirthdayMarch 18, 1932
Died onJanuary 27, 2009
NationalityAmerican
FamousHarvard University, Writers, Poets
Nick namesRabbit
SpousesMartha Ruggles Bernhard, Mary Entwistle Pennington (m. 1953)
Childrens David (born 1957), Elizabeth, Michael (born 1959) Miranda
Universities
  • Harvard University
  • Shillington High School Radcliffe College
  • The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford
Notable Alumnis
  • Harvard University
Birth PlaceReading, Pennsylvania, United States
ReligionChristianity
GenderMale
FatherWesley Russell Updike
MotherLinda Grace (née Hoyer)
Sun SignPisces
Born inReading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died at Age76

// Famous Alumni of Harvard University

John Updike's photo

Who is John Updike?

Considered one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, John Updike was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner author and was also the recipient of many prestigious literary awards. A prodigious and prolific writer, most of Updike’s novels center on religion, sex and the American middle class. Talking about average American people, he once said, "I like middles. It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules." Many of his novels have been adapted for movies and television for their visual appeal and proximity to the lives of Americans. Apart from a fair number of novels and short stories to his credit, he was also a regular contributor to ‘The New Yorker’. According to famous essayist and writer, Adam Gopnik, Updike was "the first American writer since Henry James to get himself fully expressed, the man who broke the curse of incompleteness that had haunted American writing”. Updike’s prose style has always been the highlight of his novels for its "rich description and language," making it almost inimitable. However, his novels are not his only major works. He was an equally good poet and short story writer. He has a composed huge number of poems, written a large number of short stories and essays and literary criticisms. To know more about this great personality, read the biography below.

// Famous Poets

Childhood & Early Life

John Updike was born in Pennysylvania to Linda Grace and Wesley Russell Updike. His mother’s aspiration for writing and getting her works published served as an inspiration for him from a very young age.

He completed high school studies from the Governor Mifflin Senior High School in 1950 and went to study at Harvard University on a full scholarship to major in English.

While at Harvard, he contributed cartoons to the in-house journal ‘Harvard Lampoon’ and later became its president. He graduated in 1954 earning a degree in English.

Following his graduation he attended ‘The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art’ at the University of Oxford to become a graphic artist.

Career

After returning to the U.S. he moved from Pennsylvania to New York where he contributed to ‘The New Yorker’ to begin his career in writing.

In 1958, he published his first book of poetry ‘The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures’ and in 1959 he published ‘The Same Door’.

He relocated to Ipswich, Massachusetts with his family in 1960 where he wrote another of his books ‘Rabbit, Run’ and in 1963 ‘The Centaur’ was published. Both the works were well-received and later won him a National book Award.

Until he came up with his next piece of work, he continued to contribute to ‘The New Yorker’. In 1971, he wrote a sequel to the ‘Rabbit Run’ called ‘Rabbit Redux’ .

In 1979 he came out with a collection of short stories ‘Too Far To Go’

His next big work of literature was in 1980 with the publication of ‘Rabbit Is Rich’ which brought him great critical acclaim worldwide.

Following the publication of the ‘Rabbit’ sequel, he came up with ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ in 1984 and ‘Roger's Version’, in 1989.

His final rabbit novel was ‘Rabbit At Rest’ published in 1990 in which the protagonist dies. The book was critically acclaimed and made him one of the most celebrated writers of his time.

In the later part of his career he wrote a number of novels; the most famous one being 1996 novel ‘In the Beauty of the Lilies’.

In 2006, he published ‘Terrorist’ which though did not gain much critical praise but attracted a lot of media attention.

His last novel was ‘The Widows of Eastwick’ in 2008, a sequel to one of his previous novels ‘The Witches of Eastwick’.

Major Works

Updike’s most celebrated work till date is his ‘Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom’ which refers to the four novels he wrote namely, ‘Rabbit, Run’, ‘Rabbit Redux’, ‘Rabbit Is Rich’ and ‘Rabbit At Rest’. Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom or just ‘Rabbit’, a fictional character, is the protagonist whose childhood, youth, adulthood and death form the basis of the novels.

‘The Witches of Eastwick’ written in 1984, is another great novel by this author which was adapted to a film, a television series and was also made into several musicals.

Awards & Achievements

For his novel ‘Rabbit Is Rich’, Updike was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1982 along with the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the second time in 1991 after the publication of his magnum opus, ‘Rabbit at Rest’.

Personal Life & Legacy

Updike married Mary E. Pennington in 1953 and in 1955, their first child Elizabeth was born. They had three more children, before they divorced in 1974.

In 1977, he married Martha Ruggles Bernhard with whom he spent the rest of his life.

He died of lung cancer at the age of 76.

Trivia

Apart from William Faulkner and Booth Tarkington, this great American novelist is the only writer to have won two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction.

// Famous Writers

John Updike awards

YearNameAward

Other

(two) National Book Awards
1989National Medal of Arts
2003National Humanities Medal
Rea Award for the Short Story for outstanding achievement
Helmerich Award
St. Louis Literary Award
American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction
Ambassador Book Award for Fiction
Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
(two) National Book Critics Circle Award
(two) Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
2004 - PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

John Updike biography timelines

  • // 18th Mar 1932
    John Updike was born in Pennysylvania to Linda Grace and Wesley Russell Updike. His mother’s aspiration for writing and getting her works published served as an inspiration for him from a very young age.
  • // 1950
    He completed high school studies from the Governor Mifflin Senior High School in 1950 and went to study at Harvard University on a full scholarship to major in English.
  • // 1953 To 1974
    Updike married Mary E. Pennington in 1953 and in 1955, their first child Elizabeth was born. They had three more children, before they divorced in 1974.
  • // 1954
    While at Harvard, he contributed cartoons to the in-house journal ‘Harvard Lampoon’ and later became its president. He graduated in 1954 earning a degree in English.
  • // 1958
    In 1958, he published his first book of poetry ‘The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures’ and in 1959 he published ‘The Same Door’.
  • // 1960
    He relocated to Ipswich, Massachusetts with his family in 1960 where he wrote another of his books ‘Rabbit, Run’ and in 1963 ‘The Centaur’ was published. Both the works were well-received and later won him a National book Award.
  • // 1971
    Until he came up with his next piece of work, he continued to contribute to ‘The New Yorker’. In 1971, he wrote a sequel to the ‘Rabbit Run’ called ‘Rabbit Redux’ .
  • // 1977
    In 1977, he married Martha Ruggles Bernhard with whom he spent the rest of his life.
  • // 1979
    In 1979 he came out with a collection of short stories ‘Too Far To Go’
  • // 1980
    His next big work of literature was in 1980 with the publication of ‘Rabbit Is Rich’ which brought him great critical acclaim worldwide.
  • // 1982
    For his novel ‘Rabbit Is Rich’, Updike was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1982 along with the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
  • // 1990
    His final rabbit novel was ‘Rabbit At Rest’ published in 1990 in which the protagonist dies. The book was critically acclaimed and made him one of the most celebrated writers of his time.
  • // 1991
    He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the second time in 1991 after the publication of his magnum opus, ‘Rabbit at Rest’.
  • // 1996
    In the later part of his career he wrote a number of novels; the most famous one being 1996 novel ‘In the Beauty of the Lilies’.
  • // 2006
    In 2006, he published ‘Terrorist’ which though did not gain much critical praise but attracted a lot of media attention.
  • // 2008
    His last novel was ‘The Widows of Eastwick’ in 2008, a sequel to one of his previous novels ‘The Witches of Eastwick’.
  • // 27th Jan 2009
    He died of lung cancer at the age of 76.

// Famous People With Stuttering

John Updike's FAQ

  • What is John Updike birthday?

    John Updike was born at 1932-03-18

  • When was John Updike died?

    John Updike was died at 2009-01-27

  • Where was John Updike died?

    John Updike was died in Danvers, Massachusetts, United States

  • Which age was John Updike died?

    John Updike was died at age 76

  • Where is John Updike's birth place?

    John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, United States

  • What is John Updike nationalities?

    John Updike's nationalities is American

  • What is John Updike nick names?

    John Updike's nickNames is Rabbit

  • Who is John Updike spouses?

    John Updike's spouses is Martha Ruggles Bernhard, Mary Entwistle Pennington (m. 1953)

  • Who is John Updike childrens?

    John Updike's childrens is David (born 1957), Elizabeth, Michael (born 1959) Miranda

  • What was John Updike universities?

    John Updike studied at Harvard University, Shillington High School Radcliffe College, The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford

  • What was John Updike notable alumnis?

    John Updike's notable alumnis is Harvard University

  • What is John Updike's religion?

    John Updike's religion is Christianity

  • Who is John Updike's father?

    John Updike's father is Wesley Russell Updike

  • Who is John Updike's mother?

    John Updike's mother is Linda Grace (née Hoyer)

  • What is John Updike's sun sign?

    John Updike is Pisces