John Leggett

Photo by Eric Olsen

1917 – 2015

John (Jack) Leggett was born in 1917, in New York, NY. He attended Andover, and graduated from Yale University in 1942, after which he served as a  lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1945. He was married to Mary Lee Fahnestock from 1948 to 1986. They had three children. He most recently lived in Napa, California, where he long directed the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. He and his second wife, Edwina Bennington of San Francisco, lived in a house designed by one of his sons. He died January 24, 2015 at age 97.

Jack was an editor and publicity director for Houghton Mifflin in Boston throughout the ‘50s, then an editor at Harper & Row Publishing in New York for seven years. In 1969 he became a professor of English and the director of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, serving in those capacities for nearly twenty years. In 2008 he presented his extensive research files for his biography of William Saroyan to the University Libraries as an addendum to papers given earlier.


A Daring Young Man: A Biography of William Saroyan (2002) Knopf [his research files and drafts for it constitute the 2003 Addendum]

Making Believe (1986) Houghton Mifflin

Gulliver House (1979) Houghton Mifflin

Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies (1974) Simon & Schuster

Who Took the Gold Away (1969) Random House

The Gloucester Branch (1964) Harper & Row

Wilder Stone (1960) Harper & Brothers