Edward Whittemore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For American poet, see Reed Whittemore.

Edward Whittemore (May 26, 1933 – August 3, 1995) was an American novelist, the author of five novels written between 1974 and 1987 and a case officer in the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations (Asia, Middle East and Europe) between 1958 and 1967.

Biography and writing career[edit]

The youngest of five children, Whittemore was born on May 26, 1933 in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, but little else is known about his early life. He graduated from Deering High School, Portland, Maine, in 1951, and went to Yale shortly after, where he obtained a degree in history. He then joined the Marines and served as an officer on a tour of duty in Japan, where he was approached by the CIA and recruited into the service. Working undercover as a reporter for The Japan Times from 1958 until 1967, Whittemore visited the Far East, Europe and the Middle East.

It was during this time that Whittemore began working on the novels for which he is probably best known. These constitute the Jerusalem Quartet, while another, earlier book titled Quin's Shanghai Circus (1974) contains the seeds of what was to come in the sequence. Out of print for many years, all five books were reissued by Old Earth Books in 2002. The Old Earth Books editions are now out of print, but Open Road Media will publish eBook editions of all five novels in July 2013

Many writers and critics have lauded the novels' breadth and imaginative intensity in publications such as The New York Times Book Review, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The Village Voice, Locus Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. On the other hand, science fiction author and critic Thomas M. Disch gave Jerusalem Poker a very negative review in the Times Literary Supplement, bemoaning more enthusiastic appreciations as a "litany of avant-garde hype" while labelling Whittemore an "anti-writer" with a "genteel poverty of imagination."

In spite of all the enthusiastic reviews, the original editions failed to achieve the same degree of commercial success, and only about 3,000 hardcover and 10,000 paperback copies of each novel ever found a buyer. Whittemore was remarkably jealous about his privacy and refused to give interviews to "unknown correspondents," an attitude that somewhat hampered the promotion effort. His favorite word, "inscrutable," could also very appropriately be applied to him.

Edward Whittemore spent the final years of his life in poverty. He died on August 3, 1995 in New York City, shortly after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.


  • Quin's Shanghai Circus (1974)

The Jerusalem Quartet[edit]

External links[edit]