Vonnegut’s Biography

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 11, 1922. He was born into a family of architects, but he chose instead to study science and chemistry at Cornell University. It was here when in 1943, he enlisted into the United States armed services. His tenure as a soldier in World War II is perhaps the most influential aspect of his life demonstrated through his later writing that would solidify his status as an accomplished writer after the war. Once enlisted, Vonnegut was assigned to study mechanical engineering at The Carnegie Institute and The University of Tennessee. Vonnegut was also a survivor of the battle of the bulge where he was taken as a German prisoner of war. During his captivity, Vonnegut was witness to the fire bombing of Dresden, Germany. Vonnegut survived by remaining underground in a slaughterhouse during the bombing. This experience is detailed in his novel, Slaughterhouse Five, which many consider to be his best work. This scene of death and destruction as described by Vonnegut is representative of the chaotic, disorderly, and meaningless reality he commonly created in his writing. When Vonnegut finished his tour of duty and returned home, he studied anthropology at the University of Chicago, but soon dropped out when his thesis was unanimously rejected. He then turned to various jobs including a public relations position with General Electric, and a brief journalism career as a newspaper reporter. Soon after the war, he also married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox. They had three children of their own and also adopted his sister’s three children when she died in 1958. It wasn’t until 1951 that Vonnegut finally devoted himself solely to his writing career. On April 11, 2007, Vonnegut died after suffering severe head trauma from a fall down a flight of stairs in his New York home weeks earlier. Vonnegut is survived by his second wife, Jill Krementz, and their adopted daughter Lily, as well as his six children from his previous marriage.

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