John Prince was born on November 12, 1922, in Norfolk, Virginia. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before World War II but broke them off to enlist in the Army paratroopers. After the war, he returned to Chapel Hill where he completed his degree in English. Mr. Prince developed friendships with several prominent American writers during and after the war, including Caroline Gordon, Allen Tate, and Eudora Welty. After spending almost a year in England, Prince settled in New York City in 1948. He was employed there until he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Missouri. After receiving his Master of Arts degree in English in 1950, he taught at the university for several years. Discouraged by his low teaching salary, Prince, who had developed an interest in cooking, went to Europe to study at the Cordon Bleu. When he returned to the United States in 1954, he settled in Washington, D.C.
Caroline Gordon had advised Prince to locate in Washington, and she arranged for him to board with Marcella Comés Winslow, a Washington artist with whom Katherine Anne Porter had lived in 1944. Prince began work in catering, through which he met Catherine Graves, whom he married in 1955. Catherine, a graduate of Bryn Mawr, was born on May 26, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her father was completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University. He accepted a position at the American Council of Learned Societies after receiving his degree, moving his family to Washington, D.C. Aside from her college years, Catherine Prince has lived the remainder of her life in Washington.
The Princes met Katherine Anne Porter through Marcella Comés Winslow in the 1950s and developed a warm friendship that was nurtured by correspondence and occasional visits. In 1959, Porter moved to the Georgetown section of Washington, where she rented a house near the Princes until 1962.
After the publication of Porter's best-selling novel, Ship of Fools, in April 1962, she decided to settle permanently in Washington, D.C. At her request in late 1963, Mr. Prince acted on her behalf to locate a house for her to purchase. Their friendship abruptly terminated in January 1964 as a result of the subsequent failed real estate transaction. John and Catherine Prince continued to live in Washington, where Mr. Prince remained active in real estate. John Prince died on February 11, 2011.