Doctor of Humane Letters

John McPhee is the award-­winning author of 29 nonfiction books, a long­ time staff writer for The New Yorker and the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.

Born and raised in Princeton, N.J., and educated at Princeton and Cam­bridge, McPhee started his writing career at Time magazine and began writing for The NewYorker in 1965.That same year,he also published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, about basketball player Bill Bradley. Since then, his work has explored a wide range of topics, from Oranges (1975) to a tennis match (Levels of the Game, 1979) and from The Pine Barrens (1978) of New Jersey to the wilderness of Alaska (Coming into the Country, 1991).

McPhee won a 1999 Pulitzer Prize, in the General Nonfiction category, for Annals of the Former World, a collection that comprises five books profiling the geological history of North America along the 40th parallel and some of the scientists who study this geology. McPhee has also been nominated for two National Book Awards in the science category, and he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977. Last year, the Center of the American West honored McPhee with its Wallace Stegner Award, citing him as “the West’s most attentive, most generous, and wisest visitor, [who has] played an unequaled role in expanding and deepening the region’s self­knowledge.”

As Princeton’s Ferris Professor since 1974, McPhee has helped to edu­ cate numerous other prominent writers. His past students include David Remnick, editor-­in-­chief of The New Yorker and fellow Pulitzer winner; Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time; and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. All four of the professor’s daughters—Jenny, Martha, Laura and Sarah McPhee—have had their own books published.