Richard Yates was born in Yonkers, New York, on February 3, 1926, to a middle-class family. His parents were divorced when he was two years old. Yates was raised by his mother, a sculptress, and by his older sister. He attended Avon Old Farms School as a teenager and left to serve in World War II immediately after graduation. After his discharge from the army, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent more than a year in a sanatorium run by the Veterans' Administration. He married his first wife, Sheila Bryant, in 1948, and they moved to France after his release from the hospital.
In 1953, Atlantic Monthly accepted one of his short stories, and Yates's writing career began. Yates returned to the United States and worked as a freelance writer of advertising copy while working on his novel Revolutionary Road. In the following years, he taught creative writing and wrote. Yet he was dragged down by depression and alcoholism, which ended his marriage in 1959.
Revolutionary Road was an instant success when it was published in 1961, and as of the early 2000s, it was considered one of the great American novels of the twentieth century. The celebrity that it brought to Yates led to his serving as a speechwriter for Robert Kennedy, who was then the U.S. attorney general. When Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963, Yates left government life: he went to Hollywood to write screenplays for a brief...
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