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In this hand written letter from Linda Grace Hoyer to her son, John Updike, Linda gives John advice about life at Harvard University, urging him to ask questions and seek help from his advisor. Linda mentions Robert Benchley, who wrote for The Harvard Lampoon during his time at the University.

Publication Date


Document Type



Cambridge, Massachusetts


Linda Grace Hoyer, John Updike, Katherine Ziemer Kramer, Christopher Lasch, The Commander Hotel, Harvard University, courses, Mr. Miller, Robert Benchley




Linda Grace Hoyer


John Updike


American Literature | Social History | United States History


While this letter is undated, we can presume it was written on September 21, 1950 based on the next two letters in the series - all written on hotel stationery from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Dear John:

It will seem very odd to be writing “Mr. John H. Updike.” But nice. To go home and explain Harvard to grandma will be much easier than expected. She would like Christopher too. The bed making probably will worry her for several weeks and then be forgotten.

Having been a fairly talkative mother, the urge is now to talk, giving out words of great wisdom. But I must have told you everything I know some years back. Besides, those 900 Harvard instructors ought to start earning their keep – and probably will. The business of selecting your courses may not be as important as it seems. At any rate, try to ask questions of your adviser and take his advice. After all, you are in Benchley’s college and learning didn’t seem to have hurt him noticeably.

Goodnight –

Is it Momma? Linda? What am I now that you are a Harvard man?

Letter from Linda Grace Hoyer to John Updike, September 21, 1950



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