"My mother had dreams of being a writer and I used to see her type in the front room. The front room is also where I would go when I was sick so I would sit there and watch her."
Novelist, short story writer and poet, John Updike was one of America's premier men of letters. As a boy growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, he suffered from psoriasis and a stammer, ailments that set him apart from his peers. He found solace in writing, and won a scholarship to Harvard, where he edited the Lampoon humor magazine. He sold his first poem and short story to The New Yorker shortly after graduation.
He won early fame with his short stories and his novel The Centaur. With his novel Rabbit, Run (1960) came further acclaim, and Pulitzer Prizes for two of its sequels, Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990), chronicling the life of a middle class American through the social upheavals of the 1960s and beyond. Rabbit, Run and Couples (1968) both stirred controversy with their forthright depiction of America's changing sexual mores, and established his reputation as a peerless observer of the human complexity behind the facade of ostensibly conventional lives. His fiction, poetry and essays also show a persistent interest in moral and philosophical questions, informed by his lifelong interest in Christian theology.
Over the course of his career, he published over 60 books, including novels, collections of short stories, poetry, drama, essays, memoirs and literary criticism. The Early Stories, 1953-1975, published in 2004, collected the short fiction from the first two decades of his career. As large a volume as it is, it represents only a small part of his vast contribution to American literature. John Updike was one of very few Americans to be honored with both the National Medal of Arts and the National Medal for the Humanities.
Rabbit Tetralogy by John Updike. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1990.
Self-Consciousness: memoirs by John Updike. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1989.
The Early Stories: 1953-1975 by John Updike. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2003.