John Hoyer Updike was born March 18, 1932 to Linda
Grace Updike and Wesley Russell Updike in Reading, Pennsylvania. Wesley Updike was originally from New Jersey where he worked as a telephone splicer and was laid off from his job during the depression. Wesley Updike met his wife Linda Updike in New Jersey. After Wesley Updike was laid off in New Jersey they moved to Shillington, Pennsylvania where Linda Updike was from. Wesley Updike became a teacher at the local High School. (“Updike,John 413). John Updike started to attend public schools in Shillington in 1936; he continued to attend schools in Shillington until 1950. In 1945 his family moved to an 80-acre farmhouse in Plowville, Pennsylvania eleven miles from Shillington. In 1950 John Updike graduated president and co-valedictorian from Shillington High School. During the summer he worked as a copy boy for the Reading Eagle. As a copy boy, he wrote a few feature stories for the newspaper (“Updike,John 414). That fall he began to attend Harvard and started writing for the Harvard Lampoon a funny magazine where he was later elected the president of the magazine. On June 26, 1953 he married his wife Mary E, Pennington a fine arts major from Radcliffe, she was two years older than John Updike. In 1954 he wrote his senior paper on Robert Herrick, who was a 17th century poet. That summer he graduated from Harvard summa cum laude (Yerkes, James 4/2/00). The next fall John Updike moves to England on a Knox Fellowship where he enrolled in the fine arts at Oxford. At Oxford he met Katharine White and she offers him a job on the staff of The New Yorker. That summer he returned to his wife, and their first child Elizabeth was born April 1, 1955. He moved his family to Manhattan where he began his work at The New Yorker. 1957 son David was born and he left the staff of The New Yorker to concentrate on his own writing. May 14 1959 son Michael was born. December 15, 1960 his last child Miranda was born. In 1962 John Updike began teaching at Harvard. On April 1, 1964 elected to the American Academy of Arts at 32, he was the youngest member ever elected. In 1976 he filed for divorce and was granted. He moved in with Martha Bernhard and her three sons. He married Martha on September 30 of that year. In 1970 he traveled with his daughter Elizabeth to Japan and Korea. In 1992 Harvard gave him Doctors of Letters Degree during the June 31 commencement. 1998 Harvard awarded him the Harvards Arts First Medal and later that year he traveled with his wife to China (“Updike,John 414).
When he moved his family to Ipswhich, Maine he completed a 600-page novel called Home. He completed his first famous novel The Poorhouse Fair and in 1960 that book received a Rosenthal Foundation Award of the National Institute and was a National Book Award Finalist. Later that year he published Rabbit Run funded by Guggenheim Foundation. In 1962 he completed his short story “Pidgeon Feathers” and it was published in Americas Best Short Stories book. 1964 he wrote Olinger Stories that were based on his early days in Shillington, Pennsylvania. 1962-1982 he receives honorary doctoral degrees from Urinsus College, Moravian College, Lafeyette College, and Albright College. All these colleges were in Pennsylvania where he grew up. In 1971 he completed Rabbit Redux it is a National Book Award Finalist. In 1981 he finished his 3rd of a 4 set of novels called Rabbit is Rich it recieves many awards. In 1981 His first novel The Carpentered Hen is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a fiction novel. In 1984 The Witches of Eastwick was written and later made into a movie staring Jack Nicholsen, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer. In 1990 he wrote his last rabbit story called Rabbit at Rest where Rabbit returns to Pennsylvania to talk about his childhood. In 1991 he receives his second Pulitzer Prize for Odd Jobs. He is one of only three authors to receive two Pulitzers (“Updike,John 414).
John Updikes writing was very materialistic. His writing was based on his life experiences and his early years in Pennsylvania. His characters were self absorbed, ridden with guilt, concerned with their own importance and worried about death. He talked about morals and that nobody had morals. This was based after his own experience with his marriage and being unfaithful. (“Updike,John 414).
The Story “Pigeon Feathers” took place in New York, parts of New England, and scenes in England but the story always comes back to Pennsylvania. Updikes characters from the story are taken directly out of his life. The schoolteacher in the story was his dad and the inhospitable mother was his mom in real life. The girl, shy boy, and Olinger in the story was based on his life in his early days in Pennsylvania.
John Updike is said to be one of the 20th centurys greatest writers. He wrote about his own life experiences in his stories and all his problems he has incurred as he was growing up. His stories are not enjoyed by all people because all his characters are arrogant and self-centered and its different to have no compassion for his characters, and that makes it hard want to read the book.