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As with most authors, John Knowles has personal background which helped him write A Separate Peace.
 
Born in Fairmont, West Virginia on September 16, 1926, Knowles was the third of four children.
 
At the age of 15 he was sent to boarding school , the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.  
It was here that he experienced the growth and friendship that Gene experiences at Dover.  The 
friend he partially bases Phineas on was David Hackett who in 1948 qualified for the U.S. 
Olympic Ice Hockey Team.  The accident obviously did not happen to David but was based 
on a minor accident that had happened to John, himself.
  
John was 16 in 1943 and faced the same questions about the war that Gene did in the novel.  
Am I going to be fighting?  What is war?  What is right and wrong?  What are loyalty and 
rivalry?  The poster below indicates the propaganda he was exposed to.  Check out the information 
on my Influences of WW II link which will give you more information about what he may have 
faced at the time.  

He later moved to the Hell’s Kitchen area of the West Side of New York.  Here he applied 
himself to writing through the 1950’s.  He wrote drama reviews, short stories, and freelance 
articles.  He later moved to Philadelphia to work for the Holiday magazine from 1957 to 1960.  
After traveling abroad, he taught for several years at the University of North Caroline and at 
Princeton.  Since 1970 he has lived in Southampton, Long Island, where he still writes.

Here is at least a partial listing of John Knowles’ published writing.

“Phineas”-a short story which takes us part way though A Separate Peace
A Separate Peace  (1960)
Indian Summer (1966)
The Paragon  (1971)
Spreading Fires  (1974)
A Vein of Riches  (1978)
Peace Breaks Out- this is a companion piece to A Separate Peace
A Stolen Past


Information Roster

A Separate Peace
Information on the novel
Influences of WW II
Information about and links to WW II sites
Projects for A Separate Peace


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