John Thorndike | The Last of His Mind |

About JT

I grew up in Connecticut, read a thousand novels as a child and always wanted to write one. After four desperate years at a New England prep school I went to Harvard, wrote some fiction, studied night and day. Then a master’s degree from Columbia, two years in the Peace Corps and a year of doctoral studies at NYU, brought to an end by the delirious sixties, marriage and parenthood. In 1970 my wife and I moved to an isolated farm in Chile, where we lived for two years. When we divorced in 1974, I wound up with custody of our son, Janir.

I settled with him in Athens, Ohio, where for ten years I ran a truck farm. I built some houses, ran an alternative school and started writing, both freelance and fiction. My first two books were novels: Anna Delaney’s Child (Macmillan, 1986), about a woman whose nine-year-old son dies in a car crash, and The Potato Baron (Villard, 1989), about a married couple struggling to decide whose life they are going to live. I moved to Colorado for five years, and to New Mexico for eight, before coming back to Ohio. My third book was a memoir about raising my son in the face of his mother’s schizophrenia: Another Way Home (Crown, 1996, with a paperback by Penguin).

After building eight houses in eight years, I moved to Cape Cod to look after my father, whose Alzheimer’s was growing worse. He wanted to go on living in his house, and I wanted to let him. The Last of His Mind: A Year in The Shadow of Alzheimer’s (to be published by Swallow Press in October, 2009), is a memoir about the last year of his life.

My Stats


M.A. Columbia University, 1966

B.A. Harvard University, 1964


Another Way Home
-Hardcover: 245 pages, Publisher: Crown (1996), ISBN 0-517-70542-7. Paperback: 245 pages, Publisher: Penguin (1997), ISBN 0-14-026570-8

The Potato Baron -Hardcover: 284 pages, Publisher: Villard (1989), ISBN 0-394-57712-4

Anna Delaney’s Child -Hardcover: 273 pages, Publisher: Macmillan (1986), ISBN 0-02-618390-0. Paperback:273 pages, Publisher: Plume (1987), ISBN 0-452-25998-3


2008 Fellowship, The MacDowell Colony

2007 Individual Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council

2004 Fellowship, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

1991 Dakin Fellow, Sewanee Writers’ Conference

1990 Individual Artist Grant panelist, Ohio Arts Council

1987 Fellowship, Leighton Artist Colony, The Banff Centre

1986 Fellowship, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

1986 Fellowship, Ragdale Foundation

1982 Individual Artist Grant, Ohio Arts Council