Mr. Peck writes middle grade through young adult novels, but he did not start out as a writer. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from DePauw University, spending his junior year abroad at the University of Exeter. Drafted into the US Army after college, he spent two years in Stuttgart, Germany.
Upon completion of his master's degree from Southern Illinois University in 1959, he taught junior high and high school English. However, he didn't like dealing with the behavior issues and other problems, so he left teaching in 1971 to write, using his experiences in teaching as material. His first novel, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, was published by Holt in 1972.
He says of that time in his life:
"Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I was hired to teach them."
Richard Peck has written more than 32 books from middle grade through young adult. He writes in a wide variety of genres, among them: horror, mystery, occult, social commentary, historical, and realism. He types all his books exclusively on an electric typewriter, explaining in a 2003 interview with Publisher's Weekly that, "it has to be a book from the first day."
He has received numerous honors and awards, including a Newbery Honor and a National Book Award nomination in 1999 for A Long Way From Chicago, and a Newbery Medal in 2001 for its sequel: A Year Down Yonder.
Richard Peck was born April 5, 1934 in Decatur, Illinois, where he also grew up. He currently lives in New York, splitting his time between writing and traveling.