Born in 1926 in Fairmont, West Virginia, John Knowles attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire from which most of the setting for Devon School (also located in New Hampshire) was taken. After a brief stint in the Air Force, Knowles enrolled at Yale University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1949. He then began work as a free-lance writer and a journalist, traveling around Europe and publishing short stories which would later be collected in one volume, Phineas, in which can be found the short story upon which A Separate Peace is based. In 1957 Knowles was hired as assistant editor of Holiday magazine. His first novel, A Separate Peace, won the William Faulkner Foundation Award, the Rosenthal Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and an award from the Independent School Education Board. After his debut success, Knowles left his position at Holiday and began traveling and writing fiction. Although he has not equalled the success and acclaim of his first novel, Knowles has published eight other novels, including Indian Summer, Morning in Antibes, Double Vision, and Peace Breaks Out. He has served as writer-in-residence at Princeton University and at the University of North Carolina, and he frequently lectures to university audiences. Knowles lives in eastern Long Island.