The Life And Times Of John Updike

1496 words - 6 pages

Literary Research- The Life and Times
John Updike’s life is reflected in his works through family, experiences and religious events. John Updike was born on March 18, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was an only child of Wesely and Grace Updike. He was raised in nearby small town of Shillington. His father was a high school science teacher and his mother was an aspiring writer. In her fifties, some of Mrs. Updike’s short stories were published in The New Yorker. For the majority of his childhood, John Updike lived in a house with his parents and grandparents. At the age of thirteen, his family made the move to an 80 acre farmhouse a few miles outside of Shillington, Pennsylvania. Moving to a rural area left Updike isolated, as a result he turned to literature for companionship. “I remember the sofa and the way I’d lie on it with a box of raisins on my stomach, and I’d eat the raisins and read” (Moyer). He continued his schooling and did so well that he became the president of his class and later on Co- Valedictorian.
From a very young age Updike read a great amount of popular fiction, more specifically mysteries and humor. After high school, for a couple of summers he worked for the Reading Eagle as a copy boy. Later he would go on to write stories for the company from time to time. Updike was an English major at the Harvard University. As an undergraduate he wrote numerous short stories and cartoons for the Harvard Lampoon, a humor magazine. In his senior year he was the magazine’s president. His junior year he met his soon to be wife Mary Pennington. In 1954, Updike graduated summa cum laude. A few months later he sold two separate works to The New Yorker Magazine.
John and Mary lived in England for a year while Updike studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford. There he met two editors of The New Yorker, E. B. and Katherine White. They encouraged him to pursue employment with the company. For two years he was the staff writer for The New Yorker. His position consisted of writing editorials, features and reviews. By this time he had two children under the age of ten. The family decided to move to Ipswich, Massachusetts. He would live in Massachusetts for the duration of his life. To support his growing family, he became a full time writer for The New Yorker but did not accept a salaried position. Throughout his life he kept a working relationship with The New Yorker and often had his works appear in the paper. Updike holds a large collection of awards, the most impressive being two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction.
Updike has published “twenty-four novels, a play, a memoir, children’s books, and numerous collections of poetry, short stories, and essays and criticism” (Shostak 19). His poetry was humble and included light verse. He gathered inspiration from Ogden Nash’s witty poems in the time period between 1930 and 1940. Nash was a fan of rhyming, "I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years...

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