John Irving was born John Wallace Blunt Jr. in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. By the time he was two years old, his parents had divorced and he never heard from his father again. His mother eventually remarried and gave him his stepfather’s last name, Irving.
His first three books were received well by critics, but they didn’t sell well; his fourth novel was his first popular success: The World According to Garp(1978), and it’s about the fatherless son of a radical feminist. The absence of a parent, especially the father, is a recurring theme in Irving’s work.
Before the success of The World According to Garp enabled him to become a full-time writer, Irving had several college teaching positions—not only at his alma mater in Iowa City, where he taught for three years, but also at Mt. Holyoke College and Brandeis University.
In 1981, his mother gave him a stack of letters that she had kept from him, letters that his father had written during World War II. Irving learned that his father was an Air Force pilot, and had been shot down over Burma.
It was also the first time he realized that his father had wanted to keep in touch with him; he considered tracking his father down, but didn’t want to hurt his stepfather.
Instead, he used some of his father’s stories in his book The Cider House Rules(1985) which was later made into a movie of the same name
Irving then won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules.
He has written several books since then. His latest novel is called In One Person. Irving’s books have been translated into thirty-five languages, and he has had ten international bestsellers.