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Jaws (novel) facts for kids

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Jaws novel cover
Cover of the first hardcover edition
Author Peter Benchley
Translator Wikipedia
Cover artist Paul Bacon (hardcover)
Roger Kastel (paperback)
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller
Publisher Doubleday (hardcover)
Bantam (paperback)
Publication date
February 1974
Pages 278
LC Class PS3552.E537

Jaws is a 1974 novel by American writer Peter Benchley. It tells the story of a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town and the voyage of three men trying to kill it.

Film producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown read the novel before its publication and bought the film rights, selecting Steven Spielberg to direct the film adaptation. The Jaws film, released in June 1975, omitted many of the novel's minor subplots, focusing more on the shark. Jaws became the highest-grossing movie in history up to that point, becoming a major film in motion picture history and the father of the summer blockbuster film. Three sequels followed the film.


Peter Benchley had a long time fascination with sharks, which he frequently encountered while fishing with his father Nathaniel in Nantucket. As a result, for years, he had considered writing "a story about a shark that attacks people and what would happen if it came in and wouldn't go away." This interest grew greater after reading a 1964 news story about fisherman Frank Mundus catching a great white shark weighing 4,550 pounds (2,060 kg) off the shore of Montauk Point, Long Island, New York.

In 1971, Benchley worked as a freelance writer struggling to support his wife and children. In the meantime, his literary agent scheduled regular meetings with publishing house editors. One of them was Doubleday editor Thomas Congdon, who had lunch with Benchley seeking book ideas. Congdon did not find Benchley's proposals for non-fiction interesting, but instead favored his idea for a novel about a shark terrorizing a beach resort. Benchley sent a page to Congdon's office, and the editor paid him $1,000 for 100 pages. Those pages would comprise the first four chapters

The manuscript took a year and a half to complete. After various revisions and rewrites, Benchley delivered his final draft in January 1973.

Benchley was also partly inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 where there were four recorded fatalities and one critical injury from shark attacks from July 1 through July 12, 1916. The story is very similar to the story in Benchley's book with a vacation beach town on the Atlantic coast being haunted by a killer shark and people eventually being commissioned to hunt down and kill the shark or sharks responsible.

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