Styron, William, 1925-2006

Alternative names
Birth 1925-06-11
Death 2006-11-01

Biographical notes:

American novelist William Styron was born in Virginia and graduated from Duke. After serving in World War II, he worked as an editor while writing his first novel. His work has been both controversial and timely; his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, explored the theme of slavery, and benefitted from being released during the racially-charged 1960s, and his American Book Award-winning novel, Sophie's Choice, examined a World War II concentration camp survivor. His style was influenced by Faulkner and other Southern writers. An accomplished but not prolific novelist, Styron has also written in other genres.

From the description of William Styron letters, recording, and periodical, 1960-1968. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 60573838

William Styron attended Davidson college from 1942 to 1943. He graduated from Duke University in 1947. A novelist, his works include The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, and Lie Down in Darkness.

From the description of Collection [archives], 1942-1990. (American Museum of Natural History). WorldCat record id: 722301511


From the description of Reminiscences of William Styron : oral history, 1986-1987. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 269255080

American author and Duke University alumnus.

From the description of William Styron papers, 1855-2007 and undated. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 40509458

Author and novelist.

From the description of Papers of William Styron, 1951-1968. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 75382873

Biographical Note

  • 1925, June 11: Born, Newport News, Va.
  • 1938: Mother died; sent to Christchurch School, Christchurch, Va.
  • 1943 - 1945 : Served in marines in World War II.
  • 1947: Graduated, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
  • 1947 - 1950 : Worked briefly for McGraw-Hill, book publishers Studied writing, New School for Social Research, New York, N.Y. Published first short stories and began writing first novel
  • 1951: Published Lie Down in Darkness. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Briefly recalled into marines during Korean War.
  • 1952: Received fellowship in literature, American Academy, Rome Italy; spent time in France and Italy; helped found Paris Review
  • 1953: Married Rose Burgunder
  • 1954: Settled in Roxbury, Conn.
  • 1955: Published The Long March. New York: Vintage Books
  • 1960: Published Set This House on Fire. New York: Random House
  • 1964: Fellow, Stillman College, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • 1967: Published The Confessions of Nat Turner. New York: Random House, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize
  • 1972: Play In the Clap Shack, produced at Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, Conn.; became honorary consultant in letters, Library of Congress
  • 1979: Published Sophie's Choice. New York: Random House
  • 1982: Published This Quiet Dust. New York: Random House
  • 1984: Received Connecticut Arts Award
  • 1990: Published Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. New York: Random House
  • 1993: Awarded National Medal of Arts
  • 2006, Nov. 1: Died, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

From the guide to the William Styron Papers, 1951-1968, (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

  • 1925, June 11: Born to William Clark Styron and Pauline (Abraham) Styron, in Newport News, Va.
  • 1942: Attended Davidson College
  • 1943: Enlisted in Marine Corps in V-12 program Transferred to Duke University
  • 1944 - 1945 : Served as lieutenant in the Marine Corps
  • 1947: Received A.B. from Duke University Moved to New York City and studied writing with Hiram Haydn at the New School for Social Research Associate editor with McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, N.Y.
  • 1952: Received American Academy of Arts and Letters Prix de Rome for Lie Down in Darkness (1951)
  • 1953, May 4: Married Rose Burgunder
  • 1960: Published the novel, Set this House on Fire
  • 1968: Received Pulitzer Prize for The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967)
  • 1970: Received Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for The Confessions of Nat Turner
  • 1979: Publication of Sophie's Choice
  • 1980: Received the American Book Award and nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, both for Sophie's Choice
  • 1984: Received Connecticut Arts Award and Duke University's Distinguished Alumni Award Appointed a fellow of Silliman College of Yale University
  • 1985: Received the Prix Mondial del Duca
  • 1987: Received the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  • 1988: Received Edward MacDowell Medal
  • 1990: Publication of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, a narrative recalling the major depression Styron suffered beginning in 1985
  • 2006 November: Died at the age of 81 in Martha's Vineyard

From the guide to the William Styron Papers, 1855-2007, (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)


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Ark ID:


  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Male authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Depression, Mental
  • Depressed persons--Interviews
  • Literature
  • Novelists, American--Interviews
  • American literature
  • American fiction
  • Fiction
  • Authors--Interviews
  • American literature--20th century
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Authors


  • Editors
  • Authors
  • Novelists


  • Newport News (Va.) (as recorded)