Peter Benchley: The author of a shark-infested blockbuster summer classic

It’s the summertime, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some of my favorite (let’s be honest—everybody’s favorite) summer movies that were based on books (we will be talking about the books, of course). And, where else could I possibly start other than Peter Benchley’s Jaws? Now, truth be told, I’m going to discuss the book itself in tomorrow’s post, but for today, we can talk about the author, because I honestly believe for one to understand a book then one must understand an author’s background first.


Benchley was born in New York City on Feb. 11. He graduated from Harvard University in 1961 and spent a year traveling the world, which he elaborates on in his first book, a memoir, titled Time and Ticket that was published in 1964. After spending some time in the Marine Corps, he started as a reporter for The Washington Post and later was a “radio and TV editor” for Newsweek. He was also a junior speech writer for President Lyndon B. Johnson.

After years of trying to make it as a writer, Benchley finally pitched the idea of Jaws, which was published in 1974 and it was met with immediate acclaim from readers.

He has stated of his fascination with sharks:

“Always, though, I continued to be interested in sharks and the sea, and my family and I have dived all over the world with wonderful creatures. I have written, narrated and been in dozens of television documentaries about marine life” (

Other books by Benchley included:

  • The Deep (1974)
  • The Island (1976)
  • Rummies (1989)
  • Beast (1991)
  • White Shark (1994)

Benchley later regretted writing “sensational” books about man-eating water creatures and spent the last decade of his life writing non-fiction as an advocate for conservation.

He passed away in 2006 from pulmonary fibrosis.

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