Class of 1954
Author of Ordinary People and other best selling novels
Award winning Writer of Screen Plays
Judith Guest attended Mumford High School in Detroit her freshman year and graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1954. She is the great-niece of Edgar A. Guest, who was a Poet Laureate of Michigan and wrote daily poems for the Detroit Free Press.
Ms. Guest studied English and psychology at the University of Michigan and was awarded a BS in Education in 1958. She taught first grade in Garden City, Michigan while she was raising her family. She began writing when she was ten, but, by her own admission, "never finished anything". In 1970 she entered a short story in a contest and was awarded 60th place out of the 100 submissions.
After being rejected by two publishers her novel, Ordinary People, was published by Viking Press. It became a best seller and won the University of Rochester Kafka Prize and was published in seventeen countries. It was later made into a movie directed by Robert Redford and won the Oscar for best picture in 1980.
Her second novel, Second Heaven, was quickly published and selected as one of School Library Journal's best books for young people. However, but her third attempt, Killing Time in St. Cloud, was rejected before being published.
Each of her following novels, Errands and The Tarnished Eye, were rejected by at least one publisher before getting to the public book shelves. Judith Guest demonstrates the persistence needed in the book business.
She has written several screenplays including one, Rachel River, that was based on the writing of Carol Bly. She has also served as instructor in creative writing and screenwriting at the University of Minnesota.
In 1996, Judith Guest was inducted into the Royal Oak High School Hall of Fame.