The Ten Greatest Essays, Ever

John McPhee

Alec Wilkinson, “Moonshine”
(from The New Yorker, August 19, 1985)

Mark Singer, “Court Buff”
(from The New Yorker, December 15, 1980)

Ian Frazier, “Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations Of The Father”
(from The Atlantic Monthly, February 1997)

Gay Talese, “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold”
(from Esquire, April 1966)

Calvin Trillin, “Taureau Piscine”
(from Travels With Alice, 1989)

Lawrence Wechsler, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder
(published by Pantheon, 1995)

Richard Preston, “The Mountains of Pi”
(from The New Yorker, March 2, 1992)

John Seabrook, “My Father’s Closet”
(from The New Yorker, March 16, 1998)

John Updike, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”
(from The New Yorker, October 22, 1960)

Roger Angell, “Bob Gibson”
(from Game Time, 2003)

Anne Fadiman, “Marrying Libraries”
(from Ex Libris, 1998)

Alan Lightman, “Pas de Deux”
(from Dance for Two, 1996)

Back To List

About John McPhee


John McPhee is one of the world’s most revered essayists. The author of over eighty essays for the The New Yorker, he began his career as a journalist for Time magazine before developing a writing style that would come to form the foundation for contemporary narrative nonfiction in America. His books include the seminal works A Sense of Where You Are, Oranges, Encounters with the Archdruid, Pieces of the Frame, Coming into the Country, The Control of Nature, Looking for a Ship, The Curve of Binding Energy, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Annals of the Former World, which was called by Stephen Jay Gould “an absolute triumph of succinct prose.” In more than thirty books, McPhee has established himself a pioneer of the modern essay, a distinction that was recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with its prestigious Academy Award. McPhee lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Princeton University as the Ferris Professor of Journalism.