Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike Dies At 76 (March 18th, 1932 - January 27th, 2009)

John Updike, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, passed away Tuesday, January 27th, at the age of 76, after a battle with lung cancer. He was an award-winning American novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, literary critic and art critic. John Updike described his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class." The majority of his fiction was set in New England. He was a prolific writer, publishing more than 60 books, including twenty-five novels, over a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, stories, reviews, children's books and literary criticism. Updike was a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He was known internationally for his rabbit series which includes Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1990). Updike won the Pulitzer Prize for two of his novels, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest, as well as two National Book Awards. He was the third American to win a second Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category.

John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was raised in the small town of Plowtown, Pennsylvania where he became interested in reading and writing. During his childhood, he lived on an isolated farm. His favorite books were mysteries, written by Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. Updike later attended Harvard, majoring in English, contributing to and later editing the Harvard Lampoon. In 1955, he joined The New Yorker staff.

By the age of 23, he was able to support himself by writing. He wrote The Couples (1968), The Witches of Eastwick (1984), and its sequel, The Widows of Eastwick (2008). The Centaur (1963) used mythology to explore the relationship between a schoolmaster and his son. Terrorist was Updike's 22nd novel, and concerned an 18 year old extremist who critiqued American culture.

John Updike will be remembered as a major literary figure who wrote with beauty and passion about American middle class life.

For more information, please visit the Literature Resource Center, a database containing biographies, bibliographies and critical analysis of more than 120,000 literary figures from all time periods. A JCLC library card is required for access.

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