Birthplace: Shillington, Pennsylvania
Typewriter: Olivetti from the 1940s
Writer, poet, and critic. He studied at Harvard (1954 BA) and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts, Oxford (1954-5), and though he would not develop his youthful talents as an artist, he never lost his interest in art. He worked on the staff of the New Yorker for two years (1955-7), and while maintaining his relationship with that periodical, over the years he became a highly successful novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist, eventually settling in Georgetown, MA. His first novel, The Poorhouse Fair (1957), initiated the critical dispute about his writing: some critics would praise his wit, style, use of language, and his affinity for the middle class and their spiritual and sexual angst; others complain about his plots, the sexual content of his work, and the alleged lack of substance. For most readers, he became associated with such popular works as The Witches of Eastwick (1989) and his contemporary American Everyman, Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstron in Rabbit Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1990). Later novels include Brazil (1994) and Seek My Face (2003). Some readers and critics feel that The Centaur (1963), an early mythic novel about a teacher in a small town, is his best work. He is also admired for his many reviews and essays on a wide range of writers, artists, and cultural issues.