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John Updike's Biography

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John Hoyer Updike was born on 18 March 1932 in Pennsylvania.

When John Updike was 13, his parents moved back to live with his maternal grandparents on their farm. His father was a schoolteacher who worked on building sites in the holidays.

When he was young, John Updike was more interested in drawing cartoons than a literary life. On the other hand his mother wrote short stories, which consistently got rejected by magazines, including the New Yorker. (Later in life, she got accepted by the New Yorker and a collection of her stories, Enchantment was published in 1971).

John Updike studied English at Harvard and then had a year-long fellowship at the Ruskin School of Drawing of Fine Art in England. After he left there in 1955 he started working for the New Yorker, with whom he continued to have a relationship for over 50 years.

John Updike was one of America's greatest writers and although he wrote short stories, poems, and essays it is mainly through his novels that he gained his reputation.

Updike wrote over 30 novels. His first was The Poorhouse Fair (1959), which was heavily influenced by Henry Green.

He is best known for his Rabbit series, which began with his second book Rabbit, Run back in 1960. The others in the series, which have spanned the decades are Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990), for which he won the Pullitzer Prize.

The 'Rabbit' books follow the life of an American, Harry Angstrom, from his teens to old age.

Other famous John Updike novels include The Witches of Eastwick(1984) and Couples (1968).

Updike told the Washington Post: "People may have liked me better if I had written less."

In January 2009, John Updike died at the age of 76, after suffering from lung cancer.

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