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Jonathan Yardley (born 1939) was a book critic at The Washington Post, and at one time of the Washington Star. In 1981 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Background and education[edit]

Yardley was born in Pittsburgh in 1939. His father was a teacher of English and the classics, as well as an Episcopal minister and a headmaster at two East Coast private schools. Yardley graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, in 1961. Yardley is married to biographer/novelist Marie Arana, the former editor of Washington Post Book World.[1] His sons, Jim Yardley and William Yardley, by a previous marriage, are New York Times reporters. He and his son Jim are one of two father-son recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.


After leaving Chapel Hill, Yardley interned at the New York Times as assistant to James Reston, the columnist and Washington Bureau chief. From 1964 to 1974, Yardley worked as an editorial writer and book reviewer at the Greensboro Daily News; during this time, he was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, academic year 1968-1969, where he studied American literature and literary biography. From 1974 to 1978, Yardley served as book editor of the Miami Herald. From 1978 to 1981, he was the book critic at the Washington Star, receiving a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1981. In 1981, Yardley became book critic and columnist at the Washington Post.

Yardley is author of several books, among them biographies of Frederick Exley and Ring Lardner. His memoir about his family, Our Kind of People, describes his parents' 50-year marriage and casts a wry eye on the American WASP experience. He edited H.L. Mencken's posthumous literary and journalistic memoir, My Life as Author and Editor. He has written introductions to books by Graham Greene, A. J. Liebling, Booth Tarkington and others.

Yardley is known simultaneously as a scathingly frank critic and a starmaker. Among the talents he has brought to public light and championed are Michael Chabon, Edward P. Jones, Anne Tyler, William Boyd, Olga Grushin and John Berendt. He wrote a famously harsh review of Joe McGinniss' book The Last Brother: The Rise and Fall of Teddy Kennedy, saying "Not merely is it a textbook example of shoddy journalistic and publishing ethics; it is also a genuinely, unrelievedly rotten book, one without a single redeeming virtue, an embarrassment that should bring nothing except shame to everyone associated with it."[2] In early 2003, Yardley began a series called "Second Reading",[3] described as “An occasional series in which The Post’s book critic reconsiders notable and/or neglected books from the past.” Every month or so, for the next seven years, he published essays about notable books from the past, many of which had gone out of print or were in some way seen as neglected.[4] It was in this series (in 2004) that he gained attention for his highly critical look at The Catcher in the Rye.[5] A collection of the Second Reading columns was published by Europa Editions in July 2011.

On December 5, 2014, Yardley announced his retirement as book critic of the Post.[6]


Yardley was awarded the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Yardley has been a Nieman Fellow. Yardley was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by George Washington University in 1987, and a distinguished alumnus award by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989.


As editor

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Offman, Craig, "Washington Post Book World editor steps down", Salon.com, 15 July 1999 (Accessed 27 February 2007)
  2. ^ Subject: Why Spill Vitriol on Such a Squalid Screed?
  3. ^ Second Reading at the Washington Post
  4. ^ Full list: "Jonathan Yardley’s Second Readings", The Neglected Books Page, last accessed January 10, 2010.
  5. ^ "J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly", by Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post, October 19, 2004; Page C01
  6. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (December 5, 2014). "After More Than Three Decades and 3,000 Reviews, a Fond Farewell". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Yardley — Please support Wikipedia.
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710 news items

Washington Post
Fri, 05 Dec 2014 14:14:23 -0800

As longtime Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley retires this week, he lists some of the books he's cherished most during his 33-year tenure with Book World. Some of the titles here he reviewed for The Post, and others he read for the first ...

Huffington Post Canada

Huffington Post Canada
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:26:15 -0700

Fraud charges have been laid against Damian Funk, who is 25, and a 27-year-old woman, Stephanie Degner. Two men in their 30s, Jonathan Yardley and Ashley Yardley, have also been arrested. Police say their investigation continues and further charges ...

MetroNews Canada

MetroNews Canada
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:41:10 -0700

Jonathan Yardley, 35, faces two charges of fraud over $5,000 and his brother Ashely Yardley, 30, was arrested with six outstanding warrants for similar charges in Edmonton, where he is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 25. The investigation continues ...

Philly.com (blog)

Philly.com (blog)
Wed, 12 Aug 2015 15:52:30 -0700

... Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 7:03 PM. Click into the video player below to watch a live stream of the Union's U.S. Open Cup semifinal game against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park. Jonathan Yardley and Jill Loyden have the call, starting at 7:30 p.m ...

The New Yorker

The New Yorker
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 14:11:15 -0700

The Washington Post literary critic Jonathan Yardley railed against the project as an embarrassing waste of money, calling “The Prophet” “pure gibberish” and its author the “patron saint of calendar and greeting-card copywriters.” The movie probably ...
The Weekly Standard (blog)
Mon, 10 Aug 2015 12:40:55 -0700

Author's note: In an earlier version of this piece, I erred in writing that Jonathan Yardley's biography of Exley is scheduled for publication this year. The book, called Misfit, was published in 1997 and does able service given the thin resources ...

The Democratic Daily

The Democratic Daily
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 11:56:15 -0700

Notes: Hart Williams , like Jonathan Yardley, is a member of the National Book Critics' Circle. Body (including quotes): 1000 words, precisely. I merely wish that I would have had more space for this article. Neither book is done justice in 500 words ...


Mon, 10 Aug 2015 04:02:03 -0700

Councillor Jonathan Yardley, who represents the Tettenhall Regis ward, said: “It's been a constant issue with me and my constituents from the moment planning permission was applied for up until now. “The applicants David Wilson Homes Mercia realised ...

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