John Updike (1932-2009), originally from Shillington, Pennsylvania, was an enormously popular late 20th century author mostly known for a series of bestselling novels published across 40 years, centered on a character named “Harry Rabbit Angstrom” and with “Rabbit” in the title of each. Two of the books in the series won Pulitzer Prizes. He had numerous other bestsellers as well, including Witches of Eastwick and the “Bech” series.
Read more about the writer here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Updike.
“A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens.” –John Updike
Updike’s childhood home, where he lived until age 13, at 117 Philadelphia Avenue in Shillington, is owned by the John Updike Society and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available within limited hours. Click here for information: https://johnupdikechildhoodhome.com/contact. The house has a rich history dating back more than a century with several owners, all chronicled by the John Updike Society.
Shillington has a population of approximately 5,300, and nearby Reading has a population of around 88,500.
Ideas for Families in Reading, PA
A collection of John Updike’s writings and memorabilia are held at the Reading Public Library at 100 South Fifth Street and may be accessible if you call ahead to schedule a visit. Meanwhile, kids can stay on the “rabbit” theme by using the library’s catalog to do a scavenger hunt to find all the books about rabbits or with rabbit characters in their children’s collection. Try Peter Rabbit, “Rabbit” from Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, The Tortoise and the Hare, and see how many you can find.
This is the tenth stop on our Pennsylvania Author Adventures Trail.