John Updike Dead at 76

Posted on January 27, 2009

Photo of John Updike, Barbara Bush and President George H. W. BushPulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 76. Updike's last book was The Widows of Eastwick, a sequel to the bestseller, The Witches of Eastwick.
A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir "Self-Consciousness" and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams. He was prolific, even compulsive, releasing more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest," and two National Book Awards.

Although himself deprived of a Nobel, he did bestow it upon one of his fictional characters, Henry Bech, the womanizing, egotistical Jewish novelist who collected the literature prize in 1999.

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He received his greatest acclaim for the "Rabbit" series, a quartet of novels published over a 30-year span that featured ex-high school basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom and his restless adjustment to adulthood and the constraints of work and family

Nicholas Latimer, vice president of publicity at Alfred A. Knopf announced the death this morning saying, "It is with great sadness that I report that John Updike died this morning at the age of 76, after a battle with lung cancer. He was one of our greatest writers, and he will be sorely missed." Updike is pictured above with President George H. W. Bush and Mrs. Bush when he was awarded the Medal of Arts.

(Photo: George Bush Presidential Library Archive)


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