With an uncommonly varied oeuvre that includes poetry, criticism, essays, short stories, and novels, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike helped to change the face of late-20th-century American literature.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1954. Following a year of study in England, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, establishing a relationship with the magazine that continued until his death in January, 2009. For more than 50 years, he lived in two small towns in Massachusetts that inspired the settings for several of his stories.
In 1958, Updike's first collection of poetry was published. A year later, he made his fiction debut with The Poorhouse Fair. But it was his second novel, 1960's Rabbit, Run, that forged his reputation and introduced one of the most memorable characters in American fiction. Former small-town basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom struck a responsive chord with readers and critics alike and catapulted Updike into the literary stratosphere.
Updike would revisit Angstrom in 1971, 1981, and 1990, chronicling his hapless protagonist's jittery journey into undistinguished middle age in three melancholy bestsellers: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest. A concluding novella, "Rabbit Remembered," appeared in the 2001 story collection Licks of Love.
Although autobiographical elements appear in the Rabbit books, Updike's true literary alter ego was not Harry Angstrom but Harry Bech, a famously unproductive Jewish-American writer who starred in his own story cycle. In between -- indeed, far beyond -- his successful series, Updike went on to produce an astonishingly diverse string of novels. In addition, his criticism and short fiction became popular staples of distinguished literary publications.
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Updike first became entranced by reading when he was a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Pennsylvania. Afflicted with psoriasis and a stammer, he escaped his self-consciousness by immersing himself in drawing, writing, and reading.
An accomplished artist, Updike accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University.
He decided to attend Harvard University because he was a big fan of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.
One of the most respected authors of the 20th century, Updike won every major literary prize in America, including the Guggenheim Fellow, the Rosenthal Award, the National Book Award in Fiction, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of the Arts.
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Signed, First Editions by John Updike|
|The Carpentered Hen And Other Tame Creatures (poems), 1958|
|The Poorhouse Fair, 1959|
|The Same Door (stories), 1959|
|Rabbit, Run, 1960|
|Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories, 1962|
|The Centaur, 1963|
|Telephone Poles and Other Poems, 1963|
|Of the Farm, 1965|
|Assorted Prose, 1965|
|A Child's Calendar, 1965|
|The Music School (stories), 1966|
|Midpoint and Other Poems, 1969|
|Bech: A Book, 1970|
|Rabbit Redux, 1971|
|Museums and Women and Other Stories, 1972|
|Buchanan Dying: A Play, 1974|
|A Month of Sundays, 1975|
|Picked-Up Pieces (essays), 1975|
|Marry Me: A Romance, 1976|
|Tossing and Turning: Poems, 1977|
|The Coup, 1978|
|From the Journal of a Leper (story), 1978|
|Too Far to Go : The Maples Stories, 1979|
|Problems and Other Stories, 1979|
|Talk From the Fifties (essays), 1980|
|Rabbit Is Rich, 1981|
|The Beloved (story), 1982|
|Bech Is Back, 1982|
|Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism, 1983|
|The Witches of Eastwick, 1984|
|Jester's Dozen (poems), 1984|
|Facing Nature: Poems, 1985|
|Roger's Version, 1986|
|More Stately Mansions (story), 1987|
|Trust Me: Short Stories, 1987|
|Self-Conciousness: Memoirs, 1989|
|Just Looking: Essays On Art, 1989|
|Rabbit at Rest, 1990|
|The Alligators (children's story), 1990|
|Odd Jobs: Essays and Criticism, 1991|
|Concert at Castle Hill, 1992|
|Memories of the Ford Administration, 1992|
|Collected Poems 1953-1993, 1993|
|The Afterlife and Other Stories, 1994|
|A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects: Poems (for children), 1995|
|In the Beauty of the Lilies, 1995|
|Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf, 1996|
|Toward the End of Time, 1997|
|Bech at Bay, 1998|
|A & P (stories), 1998|
|More Matter: Essays and Criticism, 1999|
|Gertrude and Claudius, 2000|
|Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, "Rabbit Remembered", 2000|
|Americana: And Other Poems, 2001|
|Seek My Face, 2002|
|The Early Stories, 1953-1975, 2003|
|The Terrorist, 2006|