John Cheever

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Cheever, John

Cheever, John, 1912–82, American author, b. Quincy, Mass. His expulsion from Thayer Academy was the subject of his first short story, published by the New Republic when he was 17. Many of his subsequent works are also semiautobiographical. With meticulously rendered detail, Cheever often wrote about life in the affluent American suburbs. Although his works are usually comic, his view is that of a moralist. His fiction includes the novels The Wapshot Chronicle (1957), The Wapshot Scandal (1964), and Falconer (1977); and several short-story collections. Comprehansive collections of Cheever's masterful short stories, which acutely chronicle his generation's urban and suburban life, were published in 1978 (Pulitzer Prize) and 2009; his novels were collected in 2009. His daughter, Susan Cheever, 1943–, and his son, Benjamin Cheever, 1948–, are also writers.


See his journals (1991, rev. ed. 1994, repr. 2008), ed. by S. Cheever (and R. Gottlieb); his letters, ed. by B. Cheever (1988); S. Cheever, Home before Dark (1984); S. Donaldson, ed., Conversations with John Cheever (1987); biographies by S. Donaldson (1988) and B. Bailey (2009); studies by L. Waldeland (1979), R. G. Collins, ed. (1982), G. W. Hunt (1983), J. E. O'Hara (1989), F. J. Bosha, ed. (1994), P. Meanor (1995), and H. Bloom, ed. (2003).

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Cheever, John

(1912–82) writer; born in Quincy, Mass. He published his first short story at age 17 and never graduated from college. Resident in New York and its suburbs, he wrote Chekhovian satires of upper middle-class suburban life that appeared regularly in the New Yorker after the 1930s. He became a recognized master of the genre; a final collected edition of his short stories (1978) won the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote screenplays and five novels, including The Wapshot Chronicle (1957, National Book Award).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.