John Updike papers
Papers of the American writer John Updike (1932-2009).
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English.
Extent is approximate.
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on physical access to a majority of this material.
A majority of this collection is shelved offsite. Retrieval requires advance notice. Check with Houghton Public Services staff.
Access to items (359) - (387), (780a), (5434), and (7392) - (7395) is restricted until 2029 October 1. Consult curatorial staff. No copying including photography of restricted items is allowed. Born digital materials are unprocessed; use surrogate only for requests to see physical media carrier. Consult Houghton Technical Services staff.
Extent305 linear feet (382 boxes)
The John Updike Papers includes a variety of materials reflecting his personal, literary and business life. Includes materials documenting his early life, correspondence, autograph manuscript compositions, speeches, interviews legal and business records, biographical materials, fan mail, video tapes, photographs and drawings, clippings on his life and subject and research files he compiled, and much more. Further information on the content of this collection is at the beginning of each series and subseries.
Biographical / Historical
John Updike (1932-2009) was a novelist, critic, short story writer, poet, essayist, and dramatist. He graduated from Harvard College with an AB in 1954.
The collection is arranged into the following series:
- I. Compositions
- ___A. Early works, 1941-1955
- ______1. Pre-college bound works
- ______2. Early cartoon drawings
- ______3. Early poetry
- ______4. Early prose
- ______5. Early novels
- ______6. Harvard College: Willow [RESTRICTED]
- ______7. Harvard College: student papers
- ______8. Early miscellany and printed material
- ___B. Novels and books
- ___C. Short stories
- ___D. Essays
- ___E. Reviews
- ___F. Poetry
- ___G. Other compositions
- II. Correspondence
- ___A. General correspondence
- ___B. Other correspondence
- ______1. Letters to Plowville and related correspondence
- ______2. Letter files complied by John Updike
- ______3. Fan mail and invitations to speak
- ___C. Family Correspondence
- III. Images of John Updike
- ___A. Childhood images, by title
- ___B. Images, by date
- ___C. Images of John Updike as an adult, by photographer
- ___D. Images of John Updike as an adult, by title
- ___E. Other images
- IV. Other papers
- V. Audiovisual and digital media
- VI. Additions to collection
Please note that several item numbers were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid, thus numbering will not always be sequential.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Special equipment or surrogate required; consult Houghton staff.
b, pf, vault Harvard Depository
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Various accessions. Gifts from John Updike; received 1965-2011.
93M-170. Gift of Dr. Warner Berthoff; received 1994 April 13.
2001M-18 (b). Deposit, then gift of Dr. James Plath; received 2001-2002.
2008M-43. Gift of Werner Berthoff, October 2008.
2008M-83. Partial purchase, and partial gift of Allen and Wallace Shawn; received: 2009 March 27.
2009M-28. Purchase from Edward Hoagland; received: 2009 September 18, October 2. 2009M-36. Gift of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc.; received: 2009 October 8.
2009M-37. Purchased from the John Updike estate, with funds from the Amy Lowell Trust, Charles Warren American History Fund; received: 2009 September 29.
2010M-62. Gift of Alexander J. Jemal; received: 2010 August 30.
2010M-66. Purchase; received 2010 November 22.
2010M-69; 2011M-7. Purchase; received: 2011 March 1 and July 19.
2012M-39. Gift of Martha Updike; received: 2012 September 6.
2012M-83. Gift of Anthony Tuck-Attard; received: 2012 November 14.
2012M-96. Gift of Jeannette Kretzmann; received: 2012 December 7.
2012M-97. Gift of Martha Updike; received: 2012 December 7.
2012M-122. Purchase; received: 2013 February 2.
2013M-17. Partial purchase, partial gift of David F. Shire; received: 2013 July 25.
2013M-89. Purchase; received 2014 February 7. 2014M-140. Gift of Martha Updike; received: 2015 April 30. 2015M-97. Gift of Martha Updike; received: 2015 December 22. 2015M-134. Purchase; received 2016 April 5. 2016M-74. Purchase; received 2017 January 5. 2018M-088. Purchased from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in 2018 February.
Additional accessions are noted under "Additions to collection".
Born-digital material has been separated: Am1793BD
The majority of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.
Processed by: Jennifer Lyons with Susan Pyzynski, Bonnie Salt and Susan Sutherland. Also with the assistance of Michael Austin, Vicki Denby, Allison Harris, Emilie Hardman, Adrien Hilton, Irina Klyagin, Ashley Nary, Ryan Wheeler, Melanie Wisner, and Susan Wyssen.
Addition processed by Magdaline Lawhorn.
- Updike, John. John Updike papers, 1940-2009 (MS Am 1793): Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
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