Richard Wayne Peck was born on April 5, 1934, in Decatur, Illinois, the son of Wayne Morris Peck, a motorcycle-riding merchant, and Virginia Gray Peck, a dietician. Peck’s father was a veteran of World War I who ran a gas station on the edge of town. Richard Peck describes his childhood as quiet and safe. As a young man, he loved automobiles and proudly identified them by make and model. He first went to college in England, to the University of Exeter, but completed his B.A. at DePauw University in 1956. In 1959 he earned his M.A at Southern Illinois University, and he completed further graduate study at Washington University from 1960 to 1961.
After serving in the Army, Peck became a high school English teacher, working in both Illinois and New York City. While still a teacher, he began his writing career with a column on the architecture of historic neighborhoods for The New York Times. After teaching at several schools, including Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois; Hunter College of the City University of New York; and Hunter College High School in New York City, Peck left teaching to become a full-time writer in 1971. His first novel, Don’t Look and It Won’t Hurt, about teenage pregnancy, was inspired, as were many of his works, by the adolescent problems he encountered in his classrooms. The novel received critical praise and became a popular success and continues to...
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