Kurt Vonnegut is an American author famous for his surreal fantasy and fiction. His most famous novels include Player Piano, Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five. A prisoner of war during World War II, Vonnegut drew on his life experience and military service in his writing, which explored life and human nature.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was born in November of 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana. In high school he wrote for the student paper. Later, in college at Cornell University, he became managing editor of the school paper. Vonnegut left Cornell in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. The Army sent him first to Carnegie Institute of Technology, which later became Carnegie Mellon, to study engineering.
His next assignment was serving as a private in the 106 infantry division in Europe. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945. Soon after that he was captured and became a prisoner of war. He was held in Dresden, Germany but remained safe during the 1945 firebombing of the city because he was working in an underground slaughterhouse.
When Vonnegut returned to the United States, he married Jane Marie Cox. Together they had three children. After Vonnegut's sister died of cancer in 1958, the couple also adopted three of her children.
Vonnegut went to graduate school at the University of Chicago to study anthropology, but left when his first thesis was rejected. He and his family moved to Schenectady, New York where Vonnegut worked in public relations for the General Electric Company. The publication of his first short story Report on the Barnhouse Effect in Collier's Weekly in 1950 was soon followed by more published stories which eventually allowed Vonnegut to quit his job.
His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1952. From that time on, Vonnegut continued to publish novels including Cat's Cradle in 1963 and the book many consider his masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969.
Vonnegut continued writing into his eighties. His last novel was Timequake, published in 1997. His last book published during his lifetime was A Man Without a Country which was a series of essays published in 2005. Vonnegut died in April of 2007 due to complications resulting from a head injury he suffered during a fall at his home.