Peter De Vries


Biography of Peter De Vries

Peter De Vries (February 27, 1910 – September 28, 1993) was an American editor and novelist known for his satiric wit. He has been described by the philosopher Daniel Dennett as "probably the funniest writer on religion ever".

De Vries was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1910. He was educated in Dutch Christian Reformed Church schools, graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1931. He also studied at Northwestern University. He supported himself with a number of different jobs, including those of vending machine operator, toffee-apple salesman, radio actor in the 1930s, and editor for Poetry magazine from 1938 to 1944. During World War II De Vries served in the U.S. Marines, attaining the rank of Captain and was seconded to the O.S.S.. Very little is known about his time in the military or with that secret organization, the predecessor to the CIA.

He joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine at the insistence of James Thurber and worked there from 1944 to 1987, writing stories and touching up cartoon captions. A prolific writer, De Vries wrote short stories, reviews, poetry, essays, a play, novellas, and twenty-three novels. Films made from De Vries's novels include The Tunnel of Love (1958), which also was a successful Broadway play; How Do I Love Thee? (1970, based on Let Me Count the Ways); Pete 'n' Tillie (1972, based on Witch’s Milk); and Reuben, Reuben (1970), which also inspired a Broadway play, Spofford. Although he enjoyed success for five decades, all his novels were out of print by the time of his death.

James Bratt describes De Vries as "a secular Jeremiah, a renegade CRC missionary to the smart set."

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