Richard Peck '56, Novelist
Richard Peck earned his BA from DePauw in 1956. He is known for his prolific contributions to modern young adult literature. He was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2001 for his novel A Year Down Yonder. He began his career as a high school teacher, but, much to his dismay, was transferred to a junior high school to teach English. After a while, he decided to cut his career short and write. However, these observations about junior high school students proved excellent material for his books. He said, “Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I was hired to teach them.”
After he graduated from DePauw, he was drafted into the US Army as a chaplain’s assistant and spent two years serving in Stuttgart, Germany. In a 2003 interview he commented, “I think your view of the world goes on—for the rest of your life—as the world you saw as you emerged into it as an adult.”
After his military service ended, he completed a master’s degree at Southern Illinois University and taught junior high and high school English. He left teaching in 1971 to write his first novel, Don’t Look and It Won’t Hurt. He has written a book each year since then, totaling 39 books in 39 years.
Peck is a private person “who is fastidious about what he allows others to know about himself. He knows, respects, and honors personal boundaries in ways that are refreshing for someone who grew up in the sixties and seventies, when every little personal thing was fair game.” He currently lives in New York and divides his time between writing and traveling. Peck is an adjunct professor with Louisiana State University‘s School of Library and Information Sciences.