John Updike

A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, John Updike championed ordinary American life in his literature. In regards to his poetry, Updike said, “I began as a writer of light verse, and have tried to carry over into my serious or lyric verse something of the strictness and liveliness of the lesser form.” (Quote from

Photo: John Updike,

Print This Page




    Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike was publishing poetry in local magazines while still a teenager. In 1954, Updike graduated with his B.A. from Harvard and The New Yorker published one of Updike’s poems. He claimed that this publication began his writing career, though his novels, short stories, essays (on art and golf), and music criticism brought in the bulk of his income. His first volume of poetry, The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures was published in 1958.

    While Updike’s poetry began as light and witty verse, he developed a more serious tone throughout his life. However, his verse always remained rooted in Americana and the local flavors and common subjects familiar to the American people. Two other collections of Updike’s verse include Facing Nature: Poems, Collected Poems: 1953–1993, and Americana and Other Poems (2001).

    –Christie Finn

    Related Information



    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.