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Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was an extremely popular American writer of humor, science fiction novels and short stories. His novels are known for their dark humor and playful use of science fiction, as well as for their serious moral vision and cutting social commentary. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential American writers and novelists of the 20th century.
  • Background

    The American writer and graphic artist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He was the youngest of three children. His father, Kurt Sr., was an architect. His mother, Edith, came from a wealthy family of a brewer. During the Depression, the elder Vonnegut was often out of work, and Mrs. Vonnegut suffered from episodes of mental illness. In 1944, on Mother's Day she committed suicide.
  • Education

    • During the Depression when Kurt Sr. saw his architectural business disappear, he had to sell the family home and take young Kurt out of private school (the Orchard School) where, in kindergarten, Kurt had met Jane Cox, who eventually became his wife. At Shortridge High School, Vonnegut wrote for the Shortridge Daily Echo. The rigor of writing daily to deadlines helped shape his habits as a writer.
    • In 1940 Vonnegut started to study biochemistry at Cornell University and at the same time began to write for the newspaper Cornell Daily Sun. In 1943, he voluntarily joined the U.S. Army and participated in World War II.The Army initially sent him to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh and the University of Tennessee to study mechanical engineering.On December 22, 1944 Vonnegut, who was a battalion scout of the 106th Infantry Division, was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. On May 22, 1945 he was liberated by the Soviet army and returned to the U.S. After discharge from the Army, Vonnegut undertook graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Chicago. While a student, he worked as a police reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau. Vonnegut left Chicago without a degree, although in 1971 his novel Cat’s Cradle (1963) was accepted in lieu of a thesis, and he was awarded a M.A.


    • In the early 1950s Vonnegut began publishing short stories. Many of them were concerned with technology and the future, which led some critics to classify Vonnegut as a science fiction writer, though he resisted the label.Showing Vonnegut's talent for satire, his first novel, Player Piano, took on corporate culture and was published in 1952. More novels followed, including The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), and Cat's Cradle (1963). In 1967 Vonnegut received a Guggenheim fellowship that allowed him to arrive in Dresden (Germany) to collect material for his novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969). The novel tells about the bombing of Dresden by aviation allied troops in 1945, surviving witness of which was the writer, who was in captivity. The film based on the novel, made by an American director George Roy Hill, was released in 1972 and received an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

      As a graphic artist Kurt Vonnegut debuted during the writing of the novel Breakfast of Champions (1973). These were felt-tip pen drawings, which illustrated the novel with an unusual addition to the meaning of the text. Later Vonnegut created illustrations for his works, depicting in them the images of traditional American culture as well as his own. Since 1993 the writer cooperated with the artist Joe Petro III in creating graphic works. The exhibitions of Vonnegut’s works were held in his lifetime across the US.


    "There's only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you've got to be kind" – Kurt Vonnegut

    Quotations: "Only a person of deep faith can afford the luxury of skepticism" – Friedrich Nietzsche


    "The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don't acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead." – Kurt Vonnegut

    Party affiliation: socialist, humanist


    "How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash?....The acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the acceptor to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation. It is a way to fight loneliness. Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore." – Kurt Vonnegut

    Confession: atheist


    • American Academy of Arts and Sciences ,

    • American Humanist Association,

    • Delta Upsilon Fraternity ,

    • International Academy of Humanism,

    • International PEN ,



    Writers: Gustave Flaubert, Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury

    Artists: Nancy Davis

    Other interests: music, drawing, writing, smoking "Pall Mall"


    • Player Piano (Utopia 14) Novel (1952)
    • The Sirens of Titan Novel (1959)
    • Mother Night novel (1962)
    • Cat's Cradle Novel (1963)
    • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine novel (1965)
    • Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death novel (1969)
    • Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday novel (1973)
    • Slapstick or Lonesome No More! novel (1976)
    • Jailbird Novel (1979)
    • Dead-Eye Dick novel (1982)
    • Galapagos novel (1985)
    • Bluebeard novel (1987)
    • Hocus Pocus or What's the Hurry, Son? novel (1990)
    • Timequake novel (1997)
    • EPICAC tale (1950)
    • The Report on the Barnhouse Effect tale (1950)
    • The Euphio Question tale (1951)
    • Unready to Wear tale (1953)
    • The Powder-Blue Dragon tale (1954)
    • Deer in the Works tale (1955)
    • The Kid Nobody Could Handle tale (1955)
    • Miss Temptation tale (1956)
    • Long Walk to Forever tale (1960)
    • Who Am I This Time? tale (1961)
    • The Lie tale (1962)
    • The Big Space Fuck tale (1972)
    • The Package tale (1999)
    • The Very First Christmas Morning play (1962)
    • Happy Birthday, Wanda June (Penelope) play (1970)
    • Requiem play (1987)
    • Make Up Your Mind play (1993)
    • Miss Temptation play (1993)
    • Fortitude screenplay (1968)
    • Between Time and Timbuktu Or Prometheus 5 screenplay (1972)
    • Where I Live essay (1964)
    • Yes, We Have No Nirvanas essay (1968)
    • The Mysterious Madame Blavatsky essay (1970)
    • Gates Worse Than Death essay (1984)
    • Fates Worse Than Death essay (1991)
    • Introduction (Bagombo Snuff Box) essay (1999)
    • Canary in a Cat House collection (1961)
    • Welcome to the Monkey House collection (1968)
    • Bagombo Snuff Box collection (1999)
    • Happy Birthday, Wanda June film adaptation (1971)
    • Slaughterhouse Five film adaptation (1972)
    • Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love film adaptation (1974)
    • Slapstick (Of Another Kind) film adaptation (1982)
    • Mother Night film adaptation (1996)
    • Breakfast of Champions film adaptation (1999)
    • 2081 film adaptation (2009)
    • Cat's Cradle film adaptation (2013)


    • Kurt Vonnegut was married twice. From 1945 to 1971 – to his classmate Jane Marie Cox, the marriage ended in divorce. In 1979 he married Jill Krementz, a writer and a photographer. Vonnegut has three children with his first wife. The children are named Mark, Edith and Nanette. With his second wife he has a daughter, Lily.After the death of his sister Alice, who died from cancer, and her husband's death in a train accident, Kurt Vonnegut adopted their three children.
    • Father: Kurt Vonnegut, Sr - United States - architect
    • Mother: Edith Sophia Lieber - United States
    • Brother: Bernard Vonnegut - United States - chemist, meteorologist
    • Sister: Alice Vonnegut Adams - United States
    • Wife: Jane Marie Cox - United States
    • Son: Mark Vonnegut - United States - pediatrician, memoirist
      Vonnegut with his son Mark
    • Daughter: Nanette Vonnegut (Nanny) - United States - painter
    • DOG: Pumpkin
    • Daugther: Edith Vonnegut (Edie) - United States - painter
    • children: Mark, Edie, and Nanny
      Kurt and Jane Vonnegut and their three children, Mark, Edie, and Nanny in Barnstable, Massachusetts
    • 2-d Wife: Jill Krementz - United States - Photograper
    • Adopted daugter: Lily Vonnegut - United States - actrees
    • Friends: High School
      Vonnegut with high school friends, ca. 1940
    • studied at Orchard School
    • 1971
      studied at University of Chicago, Anthropology, Master of Arts
    • 1930 - 1940
      studied at Shortridge High School
    • 1940 - 1942
      studied at Cornell University, Biochemistry, Student
    • 1942 - 1943
      studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Engineering, Student
    • 1943 - 1944
      studied at University of Tennessee, Mechanical Engineering, Student
    • 1945 - 1947
      studied at University of Chicago, Anthropology, Student
    • 1946 - 2000
      police reporter, Chicago City News Bureau
    • 1947 - 1950
      public relations write, General Electric Co.
    • 1965 - 1967
      lecturer, writers workshop University Iowa
    • 1970 - 2000
      lecturer, English Harvard University
    • 1973 - 1974
      distinguished professor, City College of New York
    • 2000 - 2000
      free-lance writer
    • show more ...


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