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On John Updike

The New York Times proclaimed Updike America’s last true man of letters, because he was the most prominent writer of his generation who was equally prolific and respected as a critic.

Two presidents have honored Updike: George H.W. Bush, with a National Medal of Arts in 1989, and George W. Bush with a National Humanities Medal in 2003.

Twice Updike won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction (for Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit at Rest), joining Booth Tarkington and William Faulkner as one of only three American writers to earn that distinction.

Updike promised himself as an aspiring writer that he would produce a book a year. His first book, The Carpentered Hen (and Other Tame Creatures) was published in 1958, the same year that Alvernia was founded; Knopf published his 63rd and 64th books (Endpoint and Other Poems, My Father’s Tears and Other Stories) posthumously in 2009.