John Cheever

Short Story Writer + Novelist
Born May 27, 1912

John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs. " His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century.… Read More

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Browse recent news and stories about John Cheever.

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    Google News - Aug 26, 2011
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    Google News - Aug 25, 2011
  • Midlife Crisis, Jewish Style The Jewish Week
    Google News - Aug 24, 2011
  • When Fame And My Father Met: Joseph Heller's Own Catch 22 Huffington Post (Blog)
    Google News - Aug 23, 2011


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of John Cheever.


1912 Birth Born on May 27, 1912.


1926 14 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1926, Cheever began attending Thayer Academy, a private day school, but he found the atmosphere stifling and performed poorly, and finally transferred to Quincy High in 1928. … Read More


1932 - 1934 3 More Events
1935 23 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1935, Katharine White of The New Yorker bought Cheever's story, "Buffalo," for $45—the first of many that Cheever would publish in the magazine.
1938 26 Years Old In 1938, he began work for the Federal Writers' Project in Washington, D. C., which he considered an embarrassing boondoggle. … Read More
1941 29 Years Old The couple married in 1941.


1942 30 Years Old Cheever enlisted in the Army on May 7, 1942.
1943 31 Years Old 1 More Event
His first collection of short stories, The Way Some People Live, was published in 1943 to mixed reviews. … Read More
1946 34 Years Old In 1946, he accepted a $4,800 advance from Random House to resume work on his novel, The Holly Tree, which he had discontinued during the war. "The Enormous Radio" appeared in the May 17, 1947, issue of The New Yorker — a Kafkaesque tale about a sinister radio that broadcasts the private conversations of tenants in a New York apartment building. … Read More
1948 36 Years Old Cheever's son Benjamin was born on May 4, 1948. … Read More
1951 39 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1951, Cheever wrote "Goodbye, My Brother," after a gloomy summer in Martha's Vineyard. … Read More


1953 41 Years Old Cheever's second collection, The Enormous Radio, was published in 1953. … Read More
1956 44 Years Old In the summer of 1956, Cheever finished The Wapshot Chronicle while vacationing in Friendship, Maine, and received a congratulatory telegram from William Maxwell: "WELL ROARED LION."
1957 45 Years Old With the proceeds from the sale of film rights to "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill", Cheever and his family spent the following year in Italy, where his son Federico was born on March 9, 1957 ("We wanted to call him Frederick," Cheever wrote, "but there is of course no K in the alphabet here and I gave up after an hour or two").


1964 52 Years Old 1 More Event
The Wapshot Scandal was published in 1964, and received perhaps the best reviews of Cheever's career up to that point (amid quibbles about the novel's episodic structure).
1966 54 Years Old By then Cheever's alcoholism had become severe, exacerbated by torment concerning his bisexuality. Still, he blamed most of his marital woes on his wife, and in 1966 he consulted a psychiatrist, David C. Hays, about her hostility and "needless darkness." … Read More


1973 61 Years Old On May 12, 1973, Cheever awoke coughing uncontrollably, and learned at the hospital that he had almost died from pulmonary edema caused by alcoholism. … Read More
1975 63 Years Old Cheever's drinking soon became suicidal and, in March 1975, his brother Fred, now virtually indigent, but sober after his own lifelong bout with alcoholism, drove John back to Ossining. … Read More
1977 65 Years Old In March 1977, Cheever appeared on the cover of Newsweek with the caption, "A Great American Novel: John Cheever's Falconer." … Read More
1978 66 Years Old The Stories of John Cheever appeared in October 1978, and became one of the most successful collections ever, selling 125,000 copies in hardback and winning universal acclaim.
1979 67 Years Old Cheever was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts by the MacDowell Colony in 1979.
1981 69 Years Old In the summer of 1981, a tumor was discovered in Cheever's right kidney, and, in late November, he returned to the hospital and learned that the cancer had spread to his femur, pelvis, and bladder.
Cheever's last novel, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, was published in March 1982; only 100 pages long and relatively inferior (as Cheever himself suspected), the book received respectful reviews in part because it was widely known the author was dying of cancer. … Read More
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