Literary Talent – John Irving – Author Biographies

It has been said that John Irving often uses the literary technique of a story within a story and uses it masterfully. Some of his novels have a character who is a writer. John Irving is considered one of the best novelists in modern literature. He is a master storyteller and comic genius of our time.

John Irving was born John Wallace Blunt, Jr., on March 2, 1942, in Exeter, New Hampshire. His father was working as an aviator stationed in the Pacific. John never knew his father.

John’s parents divorced when he was only two years old. When his mother married Colin Irving in 1948, Colin adopted John. His mother changed his name to John Winslow Irving. Winslow was his maiden name.

John lived with his grandmother, in a big old house, until he was six years old when his mother remarried. When he was a child, he was a moody and distant child, and that house provided him with many places where he could live alone. He said that no adult would tell him about his father. So, in his mind, he demonized his father.

John says that it was when he was almost 40 years old and in the process of divorcing his first wife that his mother gave him a packet of letters that his father had written in 1943. It was then that he learned that his father had wanted to contact the. At that time his father had already died.

John published his first novel, ‘Setting the Bees Free’, when he was just 26 years old. In 1972, after the publication of his second novel, he was appointed writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa. While there, John received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

It was in 1976 that John moved to Massachusetts to become an assistant professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. He served as Writer in Residence at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.

It wasn’t until 1978, when ‘The World According to Garp’ was published, that John Irving was catapulted into the ‘Best Seller’ realm. All of his books since then have been bestsellers. His later works have been compared to the work of Charles Dickens.

John had been active in wrestling growing up and in college. In the 1980s, he trained wrestling in high schools while continuing to write.

In 1999, John wrote the screenplay for his novel, Cider House Rules, and it ultimately won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Since then he has continued to adapt his works to the cinema.

John is known for his strong opinions and his fight against censorship. Says John, “If you feel that much about what’s on TV, don’t have one. If you feel that much about people having abortions, don’t have one. But, we’re a country that likes to be punitive. We want to restrict. It’s kind of of crazed religious fervour”.

In 1987, John Irving John married his literary agent, Janet Turnbull. They live in Toronto and southern Vermont. John has two children.

Books by John Irving:

Freeing the Bees (1968)
The Water Method Man (1972)
The 154 Pound Marriage (1974)
The World According to Garp (1974)
The New Hampshire Hotel (1981)
The Cider House Rules (1985)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (1988)
A Son of the Circus (1994)
Widowed for a Year (1998)
The Fourth Hand (2001)
Until I Find You (2005)
Last Night at Twisted River (2009)

Irving’s 3 (1980)
Three Complete Novels (1995)

Trying to Save Piggy Sneed (1993)

Picture Books:
A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make a Sound (2004)

The Imaginary Girlfriend: A Memoir (1996)
My Film Business: A Memoir (1999)

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