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, with whom he had three children, from 1948 to 1986. He now lives in Napa, California, where he has long directed the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. He lives with his second wife, Edwina Bennington of San Francisco, in a house designed by one of his sons.
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.