Papers of John Updike (1946-2010, undated) documenting the life and literary career of the noted Reading, Pennsylvania-born American novelist, poet, short story writer, art and literary critic, cartoonist, golfer and golf writer; including manuscripts and manuscript volumes, correspondence, clippings, photographic materials; also including drafts & proofs of published materials, including interviews for Writers at Work: Seventh Paris Review; original art; loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection; also oversized materials.
In 1950, Updike graduated from Shillington High School as co-valedictorian and class president. He then attended Harvard on a full scholarship. At Harvard, he achieved early recognition as a contributor to and president of the Harvard Lampoon. He graduated summa cum laude in 1954 with a degree in English. After graduating from Harvard, Updike decided to become a graphic artist and attended The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford. At first, he wanted to be a cartoonist. After returning to the United States, however, Updike and his family moved to New York, where he became a regular contributor to The New Yorker. This was the beginning of his writing career. He occasionally contributed cartoons to various publications.
Updike's most famous work is his Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom series, including the novels Rabbit, Run (1960); Rabbit Redux (1971); Rabbit Is Rich (1981); and Rabbit at Rest (1990); and the novella Rabbit Remembered (2001). In the series, Updikes followed the life of a middle-class everyman Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom over the course of several decades, from his young adulthood to his death. Both Rabbit Is Rich (1982) and Rabbit at Rest (1991) won Pulitzer Prizes, making Updike one of only three authors to have won the award more than once. Altogether, Updike published more than twenty novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children's books. Many of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker, starting in 1954, and The New York Review of Books. He also became an accomplished cartoonist and an excellent amateur golfer. Updike achieved great literary fame and success during his lifetime. In addition to winning the two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction, he won two National Book Awards, three National Book Critics Circle awards, the 1989 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Humanities Medal. He also received the Rea Award for the Short Story. The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Updike to present the 2008 Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. government's highest humanities honor; Updike's lecture was entitled "The Clarity of Things: What Is American about American Art."
In 1953, Updike married Mary E. Pennington, an art student at Radcliffe College. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born in 1955 while Updike attended Oxford. They had three more children together. They divorced in 1974. In 1977 Updike married Martha Ruggles Bernhard with whom he lived for the remainder of his life, in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Updike died of lung cancer at a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts, on 27 January 2009, at the age of 76.
Sources: "John Updike." [Biographical Sketch] Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Updike
Guide to the John Updike papers, 1940-2009 (MS Am 1793). 300 linear ft. Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA USA. http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~hou01365
John Updike Papers, 1962-1969 (MSS43729). 2.6 linear ft. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC USA. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms010250
Author: Jonathan Dembo, 11/18/2016, 4/17/2017.
In the fall of 1966, Wright enrolled at Wake Forest University as a pre-med, history, German and music student. Wright earned a B.A. in German and music in 1970. As a graduate student at Wake Forest University, Wright focused his studies on Southern history and literature, his ambition being to build an authoritative Southern Studies collection for the university. He received a master's degree in Southern Studies in 1973 and a second master's degree in U.S. History in 1980. Additionally Wright holds a professional degree from England in a medically related field. It was while studying there that he became interested in Thomas Wolfe, the noted North Carolina native and novelist.
Following his graduation from Wake Forest, Wright began to develop his collections more systematically, acquiring many first editions of Southern writers. In 1976 he began teaching at Reynolda House, a Wake Forest University affiliate dedicated to the arts and arts education. Wright taught classes in American music as well as human anatomy for art students. In 1978 Wright became Lecturer in Education at Wake Forest University. During his 10 years teaching at Wake Forest University, Wright authored numerous works of Civil War and North Carolina history, and dozens of articles, bibliographies, essays and reviews on Southern literature and the writers whose papers he collected. In addition, he developed a strong interest in the writings of the English poet Donald Davie and the Minnesota-born poet Richard Eberhart, whose works he also collected.
At the same time, Wright also began a career as a publisher by starting Palaemon Press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By 1984, Palaemon Press had produced 316 titles, consisting mainly of broadsides and limited editions, of the poetry and essays of such Southern writers as A. R. Ammons, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, William Goyen, George Garrett, and Eudora Welty. He also built comprehensive collections and compiled book-length descriptive bibliographies of A.R. Ammons, Andrew Lytle, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, William Goyen, Walker Percy, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, George Garrett, Richard Eberhart, and Donald Davie. As well as serving as editor of the contemporary literature section of the Bulletin of Bibliography throughout the 1980s, Wright also contributed pioneering checklists of the writings of Southern poets Henry Taylor, Charles Wright, and Robert Morgan. For Meckler Publishing he served as series editor for a number of book-length bibliographies and checklists. In recognition of these accomplishments, when he was just 32, Wright was elected to membership in New York's prestigious Grolier Club.
All of these works are represented in the Stuart Wright Collection. In his dealings with these various authors Wright made consistent efforts to acquire personal papers, letters and documents, photographs, manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and published materials to supplement his continuing activities as a purchaser of their works. In this way, Wright acquired perhaps a majority of his overall collection. Over the years a number of biographers used Wright's collection to aid their research. For example, James A. Grimshaw, Jr. used the collection extensively for his Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979 published by the University Press of Virginia, in 1981 and Craig S. Abbott did so as well for John Crowe Ransom: A Descriptive Bibliography, published by Whitston Publishing Company, Inc. in 1999. Joseph Blotner also used the Wright collection in researching Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, published by Random House in 1997.
Nevertheless, from the mid- to late 1980s, Wright began to look for a permanent home for his collection, which he felt had grown too large and yet had been too little used. Unable to find a repository willing to accept the entire collection under suitable conditions, he sold a number of individual author collections to Vanderbilt University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Emory University. It was not until 2010 that he reached agreement to house the remaining, and largest part of his collection at East Carolina University. The Stuart Wright Collection in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection of J.Y. Joyner Library includes 22 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers. The related Stuart Wright Book Collection holds several thousand volumes by or about many of the same writers. Many of these volumes contain annotations, inscriptions, and insertions that reveal much about the authors in the collection and their relationships with one another. In 1998 Wright moved to England, and since 2001 he has resided in the medieval market town of Ludlow, in Shropshire.
Stuart Wright Collection: John Updike Papers (#1169-023) document the life and literary career of John Updike, 1946-2010, undated. The Updike Papers are arranged in original order in 3 series consisting of an initial acquisition of manuscript materials and two additions: Cary Addition #1, & Ludlow Addition #2. Included in the collection are manuscript volumes, correspondence & typescripts, drafts of literary works, original art & clippings, proofs of published works, clippings, photographic prints, proofs, and audio cassettes, oversized materials, pamphlets and other printed materials, and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection. The collection focuses on Updike's literary career, but also sheds light on Updike's early life and family, education, and interests, including his skills as an artist, illustrator, cartoonist, and golfer.
Series 1: Manuscript Materials is arranged in four sub-series, including manuscripts volumes, correspondence & typescripts, printed materials, original art & clippings, and proofs of published works. Included are composition notebooks that represent Updike's life at Harvard University, ca. 1950-1954; correspondence, speeches, drafts of poems, short stories & a script, broadsides, cartoons of public figures and issues in the news, ca. 1958 - 1960; drawings; photographic prints of John Updike and Kurt Vonnegut by Jill Krementz; it also includes edited transcriptions of oral interviews for Writers at Work: Seventh Paris Review (1986), including interviews with Eugene Ionesco, Philip Larkin, May Sarton, John Ashbery, Malcolm Cowley, Guillermo Cabrera, Raymond Carver, Arthur Koestler, William Maxwell, Milan Kundera, Edna O'Brien, Philip Roth, John Barth, Elizabeth Hardwick, Elie Wiesel, and Thomas McGuane; and issues of the Harvard Lampoon containing Updike's work. Series 1 also contains 38 proofs of published works that Updike received as a publisher's reader or reviewer, including loose manuscripts such as clippings, letters, advertising, and reviews by Updike and others about the works. Series 1 is held in Box 1.a - 6.h
Series 2: Cary Addition #1 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains correspondence, clippings, photographic material, proofs, and audio cassettes. Also included in this series are oversized materials, pamphlets, and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, 1950-2004. Series 2 is held in Box 7.a-8.m, os.1-os.5
Series 3: Ludlow Addition #2 to the Stuart Wright Collection contains correspondence, clippings, and loose manuscript items transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection, 1955-2000. Series 3 is held in Box 8.o-8.za
Note to Researchers: Series 1, 2, & 3: Loose Manuscript Items Transferred from the Stuart Wright Book Collection consists of items found laid in works in the Stuart Wright Book Collection by, about, associated with, or owned by John Updike. They include notes and bookmarks inserted by Updike, Stuart Wright, and others; also notes, cards, correspondence, clippings, advertising, reviews, ephemera, etc. relating to his published works. The loose manuscripts are linked to the books from which they came by their Stuart Wright Book Collection Number (e.g. Stuart Wright Book Collection #40.15).
Purchased from Stuart Wright, 10/27/2011, 7/20/2012, 11/1/2013
Processing, Preliminary inventory, & Container list by Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of Saundra Pinkham, Nathaniel King, Shelby Sapp, 11/19/2010; revised 10/27/2011, 6/18/2013, 10/9/2013, 12/10/2013; Finding aid by Jonathan Dembo, 11/8/2011, revised 7/6/2012, 12/10/2012; Updated Archivists Toolkit, Jonathan Dembo, 11/21/2013, 12/10/2013, 12/12/2013, 4/22/2016, rev. 2/21/2018.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.