was an American novelist. He was born in Wilbraham, Massachusetts to James Patrick Kennedy and Orise Belanger and was the youngest of three brothers. Kennedy spent his formative years in Belchertown and Holyoke. He would later set many of his books in the region.
After serving in the United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...
, Kennedy returned home and, under the G.I. Bill, studied at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system...
, graduating in 1960 with a degree in English. While there, he studied under the poets Ted Hughes
Edward James Hughes OM , more commonly known as Ted Hughes, was an English poet and children's writer. Critics routinely rank him as one of the best poets of his generation. Hughes was British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.Hughes was married to American poet Sylvia Plath, from 1956 until...
and Joseph Langland
Joseph Langland was an American poet.-Life:He was raised in Northeastern Iowa on the family farm. Langland received both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Iowa. He served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman during World War II...
, as well as writing teachers Bob Tucker and Doris Abramson. Shortly after graduating, Kennedy moved to New York City's Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...
. In the 1960s and 1970s he worked as a staff editor, first for Collier's Encyclopedia
P.F. Collier & Son Company published Collier's New Encyclopedia from 1902–1929, initially in 16 volumes and later in 10 volumes.Collier's 11 volume National Encyclopedia replaced Collier's New Encyclopedia....
and later for the Encyclopedia Americana
Encyclopedia Americana is one of the largest general encyclopedias in the English language. Following the acquisition of Grolier in 2000, the encyclopedia has been produced by Scholastic....
. In 1982, he joined the faculty of Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...
, where he taught creative writing until his retirement in 2006. Short story writer Jacob M. Appel
Jacob M. Appel is an American author, bioethicist and social critic. He is best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia....
, a former student of Kennedy's, has cited him as an important influence.
He is survived by his only daughter, Branwynne, to whom he dedicated one of his novels.
Kennedy's archives are maintained at Boston University's Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center and are open to the public.
His novels include:
- My Father's Orchard (1963)
- Good Night, Jupiter (1970)
- A Private Station (1972)
- Columbine (1981)
- The Flower of the Republic (1983)
- Lulu Incognito (1988)
- Ride a Cockhorse (1991)
- The Bitterest Age (1994)
- The Romance of Eleanor Gray (2003)