John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania in 1932 and was the only child of Wesley and Linda Grace Hoyer Updike. His mother had literary aspirations for herself, and her reading and writing created an atmosphere in which Updike’s creative talents could grow. As a youth, he drew cartoons for school papers, wrote articles and poems, kept a journal, and sent pieces out for publication and had them rejected.
In 1950, Updike entered Harvard on a full scholarship. He majored in English, was editor of the Harvard Lampoon, and graduated summa cum laude in 1954. That same year, he sold his first story, "Friends from Philadelphia," to the New Yorker. He received a Knox Fellowship to attend the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England for a year. From 1955-57, he worked as a staff writer for the New Yorker and wrote some of "The Talk of the Town" columns.
Updike was married to Mary Pennington from 1953-77. He has four children by his first marriage. In 1977, he married Martha R. Bernhard.
Hailed by many critics and readers as one of America’s most eminent men of letters, Updike is an extraordinarily prolific writer. He has produced 13 novels, several volumes of short stories, major poetry collections, and innumerable essays and book reviews.
Updike’s 1981 novel, "Rabbit is Rich," received the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, and the Edward MacDowell Medal for literature. In 1964 he won the National Book Award for "The Centaur" and was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
During 1964-65 Updike travelled to Eastern Europe as an American representative in a United States-Soviet Russian cultural exchange program. He travelled extensively again in 1973 as a Fulbright lecturer in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.
John Updike currently lives and works in a large seaside home about 25 miles north of Boston.