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Writer John Knowles (September 16, 1926-November 29, 2001) was born in Fairmont. He attained literary fame in 1959 with his first novel, A Separate Peace. The book was inspired by his war-years experience at a private school, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Knowles later attended Yale University.

A coming-of-age novel often compared to J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Knowles’s first book continues to be widely read and has achieved the status of a modern classic. A Separate Peace was nominated for the National Book Award and earned its author a Rosenthal Award and the William Faulkner Award for best first novel. Knowles’s other published works include Morning in Antibes (1962), Double Vision: American Thoughts Abroad (1964), Indian Summer (1966), Phineas: Six Stories (1969), Paragon (1971), Spreading Fires (1974), A Vein of Riches (1978), Peace Breaks Out (1981), and The Private Life of Axie Reed (1986). A Vein of Riches, set in and around ‘‘Middleburg,’’ apparently a fictional Fairmont, was Knowles’s notable use of a West Virginia coal country setting for his fiction.

John Knowles died in Florida.

This Article was written by Gordon Simmons

Last Revised on December 07, 2015

Related Articles


Brenni, Vito J. West Virginia Authors: A Bibliography 2nd ed., rev. by Joyce Binder. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1968.

Bryant, H. B. A Separate Peace: The War Within. Boston: Twayne Pub., 1990.

Cite This Article

Simmons, Gordon "John Knowles." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 07 December 2015. Web. 24 July 2024.


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