John McPhee Biography, Age, Education, Wife, Career, Net Worth, Books, Quotes, Oranges

John McPhee Biography

John McPhee, in full John Angus McPhee was born on March 8, 1931 in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. He is an American writer, widely considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. Also in 1965, he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and in the years since, he has written over 30 books, including Oranges, Coming into the Country, The Control of Nature, The Founding Fish, Uncommon Carriers and Silk Parachute.

In 2008, he received the George Polk Career Award for his indelible mark on American journalism during his nearly half century career. McPhee received the Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977. Since 1974, McPhee has been the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.In 1999, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World.

John McPhee Age

John who was born on March 8,1931 in Princeton, New Jersey, United States is currently 88 years old as of 2019.

John McPhee Education

He was educated at Princeton High School, then spent a postgraduate year at Deerfield Academy, before graduating from Princeton University in 1953, and spending a year at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge.

John McPhee Wife

McPhee has been married twice first to photographer Pryde Brown, with whom he fathered four daughters Jenny and Martha, who grew up to be novelists like their father, Laura, who grew up to be a photographer like her mother, and Sarah, the outlier who became an architectural historian. Brown and McPhee divorced in the late 1960s, and McPhee married his second wife, Yolanda Whitman, in 1972. He has lived in Princeton his whole life.

John McPhee
     John McPhee Photo

John McPhee Career

From 1957 to 1964, McPhee worked at Time magazine as an associate editor. In 1965 he jumped to The New Yorker as a staff writer, a life-long goal; over the course of the next five decades, the majority of McPhee’s journalism would appear in the pages of that magazine. He published his first book that year as well; A Sense of Where You Are was an expansion of a magazine profile he’d written about Bill Bradley, professional basketball player and, later, U.S. Senator. This set a life-long pattern of McPhee’s longer works beginning as shorter pieces initially appearing in The New Yorker.

Since 1965, McPhee has published 30 books on a wide variety of subjects, as well as countless articles and standalone essays in magazines and newspapers. All of his books started off as shorter pieces that appeared or were intended for The New Yorker. His work has covered an incredibly wide range of subject matter, from profiles of individuals to examinations of entire regions to scientific and academic subjects, most notably his series of books concerning the geology of the western United States, which were collected into the single volume Annals of the Former World, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction in 1999.

John McPhee Net Worth

The American writer has an estimated net worth of  $1 Million which he earned from his career as of 2019.

John McPhee Books

  • A sense of where you are: a profile of William Warren Bradley
  • The headmaster: Frank L. Boyden, of Deerfield
  • Oranges
  • The Pine Barrens
  • A roomful of Hovings and other profiles
  • Levels of the game
  • The crofter and the laird
  • Encounters with the archdruid
  • Wimbledon
  • The deltoid pumpkin seed
  • Basin and range
  • La Place de la Concorde Suisse
  • Outcroppings
  • Uncommon carriers
  • Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
  • The Patch

John McPhee Oranges

John McPhee of The New Yorker wrote about oranges in the late 1960s. It’s a story of old style cigar chomping citrus barons, sunburned pickers and new style scientific boffins. The latter’s innovations led to the modern flood of orange concentrate. McPhee researches, with his characteristic journalistic energy and with great affection, Florida’s two main orange regions: the high-producing Ridge and the high-quality Indian River. His writing is so vivid that we can smell the ripe oranges, or is it the pulp from the concentrate factories? One wonders what McPhee would make of the recent steep decline in demand for concentrate or of the bacterial plague of “citrus greening” that has decimated Florida’s groves. Amid McPhee’s delightful delving into the place of the orange in history and folklore is the tale of “mournful Isabella who cuts off the head of her dead lover, buries it in an ample pot, plants sweet basil above it and irrigates the herbs exclusively with rosewater, orange-flower water and her tears.”

John McPhee Awards and Honors

1972: National Book Award (nomination), Encounters with the Archdruid
1974: National Book Award (nomination), The Curve of Binding Energy
1977: Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters
1999: Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, Annals of the Former World
2008: George Polk Career Award for lifetime achievement in journalism

John McPhee Quotes

“If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.”

“I used to sit in class and listen to the terms come floating down the room like paper airplanes.”

“A writer has to have some kind of compulsive drive to do his work. If you don’t have it, you’d better find another kind of work, because it’s the only compulsion that will drive you through the psychological nightmares of writing.”

“Almost all Americans would recognize Anchorage, because Anchorage is that part of any city where the city has burst its seams and extruded Colonel Sanders.”

“If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.”

“When the climbers in 1953 planted their flags on the highest mountain, they set them in snow over the skeletons of creatures that had lived in the warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as twenty thousand feet below the seafloor, the skeletal remains had turned into rock. This one fact is a treatise in itself on the movements of the surface of the earth. If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.”

“In six thousand years, you could never grow wings on a reptile. With sixty million, however, you could have feathers, too.”

“She has the sort of body you go to see in marble. She has golden hair. Quickly, deftly, she reaches with both hands behind her back and unclasps her top. Setting it on her lap, she swivels ninety degrees to face the towboat square. Shoulders back, cheeks high, she holds her pose without retreat. In her ample presentation there is defiance of gravity. There is no angle of repose. She is a siren and these are her songs.”

“Now, at Suiattle Pass, Brower was still talking about butterflies. He said he had raised them from time to time and had often watched them emerge from the chrysalis–first a crack in the case, then a feeler, and in an hour a butterfly. He said he had felt that he wanted to help, to speed them through the long and awkward procedure; and he had once tried. The butterflies came out with extended abdomens, and their wings were balled together like miniature clenched fists. Nothing happened. They sat there until they died. ‘I have never gotten over that,’ he said. ‘That kind of information is all over in the country, but it’s not in town.”

“Despite the recurrence of events in which the debris-basin system fails in its struggle to contain the falling mountains, people who live on the front line are for the most part calm and complacent. It appears that no amount of front-page or prime-time attention will ever prevent such people from masking out the problem.”

“If basketball was going to enable Bradley to make friends, to prove that a banker’s son is as good as the next fellow, to prove that he could do without being the greatest-end-ever at Missouri, to prove that he was not chicken, and to live up to his mother’s championship standards, and if he was going to have some moments left over to savor his delight in the game, he obviously needed considerable practice, so he borrowed keys to the gym and set a schedule for himself that he adhereded to for four full years—in the school year, three and a half hours every day after school, nine to five on Saturday, one-thirty to five on Sunday, and, in the summer, about three hours a day.”

“Travel by canoe is not a necessity, and will nevermore be the most efficient way to get from one region to another, or even from one lake to another anywhere. A canoe trip has become simply a rite of oneness with certain terrain, a diversion off the field, an art performed not because it is a necessity but because there is value in the art itself.”

John McPhee The Patch

The Patch is the seventh collection of essays by the nonfiction master, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is divided into two parts. Part 1, “The Sporting Scene,” consists of pieces on fishing, football, golf, and lacrosse – from fly casting for chain pickerel in fall in New Hampshire to walking the linksland of St. Andrews at an Open Championship.

Part 2, called “An Album Quilt,” is a montage of fragments of varying length from pieces done across the years that have never appeared in book form – occasional pieces, memorial pieces, reflections, reminiscences, and short items in various magazines including The New Yorker. They range from a visit to the Hershey chocolate factory to encounters with Oscar Hammerstein, Joan Baez, and Mount Denali. Emphatically, the author’s purpose was not merely to preserve things but to choose passages that might entertain contemporary readers. Starting with 250,000 words, he gradually threw out 75 percent of them, and randomly assembled the remaining fragments into “an album quilt.” Among other things, The Patch is a covert memoir.