John Updike

Shillington (“Olinger”), Plowville (“Firetown”) & Reading (“Brewer”), PENNSYLVANIA

  • Photo of Robeson Evangelical Lutheran Church — Plowville, Pennsylvania
    Robeson Evangelical Lutheran Church, which Updike attended as a youth. — Plowville, Pennsylvania

    “The motions of Grace, the hardness of the heart; external circumstances.”
    Blaise Pascal
    from the epigraph of Rabbit, Run, 1960
  • Photo of a Pennsylvania Dutch dairy farm — near Plowville, Pennsylvania
    “In folds of familiarity the land tightened about him,” Updike wrote in the short story “Home.” A Pennsylvania Dutch dairy farm, near the Updike home, still rural and bucolic after all these years. — near Plowville, Pennsylvania
  • Photo of basketball hoop around a telephone pole
    “Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts. The scrape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist air blue above the wires. Rabbit Angstrom, coming up the alley in a business suit, stops and watches, though he’s twenty-six and six three.”
    John Updike
    from the opening page of Rabbit, Run, 1960
  • Photo of Reading Railroad — Reading, Pennsylvania
    “Take a ride on the Reading Railroad” – The once mighty railroad only exists on the Monopoly board now. It was laid low by government regulations and a sharp drop in coal revenues in 1971, the year Rabbit Redux came out. — Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Photo of Reading, Pennsylvania
    Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom grew up in a Brewer neighborhood called Mt. Judge, where the frame houses climbed the hill “like a single staircase.” — Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Photo of the hill Rabbit ran up in the 1970 film version of Rabbit, Run
    Rabbit, run. This is the hill Rabbit ran up in the 1970 film version of Rabbit, Run, starring James Caan. — Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Photo of Pagoda at the top of Reading’s Mount Penn
    Pagoda at the top of Reading’s Mount Penn, known as “Mount Judge” in the Rabbit novels. From the pagoda, a failed business venture that became a curiously exotic landmark for Southern Pennsylvania, one can see the city spread out beneath and imagine the fantastic old neon signs that once graced the middle distance of Rabbit’s Brewer. — Reading, Pennsylvania

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Appendix :: Literary Destinations

John Updike


The John Updike Childhood Home
117 Philadelphia Ave.
Shillington, PA
Phone: (309) 556-3352

The John Updike Society

Shillington High School and Elementary School
Mt. Sinai Cemetery
Grace Lutheran Church
Reading Pagoda atop Mt. Penn
Robeson Evangelical Lutheran Church

A Journey Through Literary America




Explore the fascinating stories of 26 great American authors with images of the places that inspired them to write. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers. With over 140 photographs throughout, the images add mood and dimension to the writing – and they are often shockingly close to what the featured authors described in their own words. Lushly illustrated, and beautifully designed, the book is as much of a pleasure to look at as it is to read.

This is a volume for the literary enthusiast, the armchair traveler or the intrepid reader. It is a handsome and beautifully illustrated companion for those who seek to learn more about authors they have read and those who wish to discover new writers.

Flannery O’Connor
Philip Roth