The Dogwood Tree: March 18, 1932

In perhaps his most famous autobiographical essay, “The Dogwood Tree: A Boyhood” (Assorted Prose, 1965), John Updike, who would have been 78 today, wrote:

“When I was born, my parents and my mother’s parents planted a dogwood tree in the side yard of the large white house in which we lived throughout my boyhood. This tree . . . was, in a sense, me.” According to Updike’s Shillington contact, Dave Silcox, John’s mother later corrected him, telling him it was planted on the one-year anniversary of his birth.

In “The Dogwood Tree,” Updike continued with a line that has more resonance today than when he wrote it:  “My dogwood tree still stands in the side yard, taller than ever . . . .”

Happy birthday.

(Photo courtesy of Jack De Bellis, taken in spring 2009)

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