History/Mission

 

The John Updike Society was officially launched on May 24, 2009 at the 20th Annual American Literature Association Conference in Boston. The Society’s first roundtable, “John Updike: Fifty Years of Literary Influence,” was moderated by James Plath and featured panelists Marshall Boswell, Lawrence Broer, Jack De Bellis, and James Schiff. It was that core group, along with Updike’s Shillington, Pa., contact, Dave Silcox, who founded the Society. At the first business meeting, which immediately followed, members approved a mission statement and bylaws, then elected Plath as president/director, Schiff as director and editor of The John Updike Review, Peter Bailey as secretary/director, and Marshall Boswell, Jack De Bellis, Judith Newman, and David Parker Royal as the remaining directors on the board. Pictured (l to r) are Royal, Schiff, De Bellis, Plath, Boswell, and Bailey.

Our mission: The John Updike Society will be operated exclusively for the purposes of awakening and sustaining reader interest in the literature and life of John Updike, promoting literature written by Updike, and fostering and encouraging critical responses to Updike’s literary works.

The Society promotes the publication of an annual refereed critical journal, The John Updike Review, and hosts biennial conferences in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other places in which Updike spent time. The Society also has an archive for all researchers at Alvernia University, and will be actively engaged in promoting educational activities involving the study of John Updike’s works. Unless otherwise announced, the Society will hold its annual general membership meeting at the May conference of the American Literature Association, which alternates sites between Boston and San Francisco.

Society milestones:

May 24, 2009–The John Updike Society is launched at the 20th Annual American Literature Conference in Boston with 35 members and an elected board consisting of James Plath (president), James Schiff, Jack De Bellis, Marshall Boswell, Peter J. Bailey, Judith Newman, and Derek Parker Royal.

December 1, 2009–The Society gets its 100th member.

December 17, 2009–The Society is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in the State of Illinois, organized for educational purposes.

September 29, 2010–It’s announced that a John Updike Society Archive will be established at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., Updike’s birthplace.

October 1-3, 2010–Members gather for the First Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Reading, Pa., hosted by Alvernia University, an early booster of the organization.

November 1, 2011–Under the editorship of James Schiff, The John Updike Review is launched, published by the University of Cincinnati and The John Updike Society, with Volume 1, Number 1 mailed to members.

February 24, 2012–The John Updike Society receives tax-exempt status as a non-profit public charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

June 13-16–The Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference is held in Boston, Mass., hosted by Suffolk University.

August 27, 2012–The John Updike Society purchases the childhood home at 117 Philadelphia Avenue in Shillington, Pa., with plans to turn it into a museum. The purchase is made possible by a generous donation from The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation and with the assistance of local realtor Conrad Vanino, Jr., who works pro bono.

Recipients of The John Updike Society Distinguished Service Award:

2010—James Yerkes, for his important contributions to Updike scholarship through The Centaurian

2013—Conrad Vanino, for his invaluable help acquiring and converting The John Updike Childhood Home into a museum