Percy, Walker, 1916-1990

Alternative names
Birth 1916-05-28
Death 1990-05-10

Biographical notes:

William Walsh, an Irish-Catholic New Orleanian born in 1925, joined the Society of Jesus in 1942. He left the order in 1973, but remained ambilavent about his decision to enter secular life. Walsh was at a personal crossroads when he read Lancelot, trying to determine his future. Having also been impressed by Percy's earlier writings, particularly The Message in the Bottle, he believed that Percy could be a source of guidance. As it turned out, Walsh and Percy never met in person and they spoke on the phone just once.

From the description of Percy-Walsh Correspondence, 1980-1999. (Loyola University). WorldCat record id: 755028264

Walker Percy was a noted novelist. Romagosa was born in Thibodeaux, Louisiana in 1924. He attended St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Following ordination in 1947, he served in various archidocesan parishes and offices in south Louisiana, mainly in the New Orleans area. In 1963 he helped found the new archdiocesan newspaper The Clarion Herald and served as its editor for twelve years. He subsequently held various positions, including Director of the Stella Maris Maritime Center, Chaplain of the Port of New Orleans, and National Secretary of the Catholic Broadcasters Association. In 1980 he was designated a monsignor. He was also an accomplished photographer, receiving several Catholic Press Awards for his photographs. He died in an automobile accident on August 1, 1999.

From the description of Percy-Romagosa Collection, 1972-1993, bulk 1982-1993. (Loyola University). WorldCat record id: 755013188

Charles Suhor was born in New Orleans in 1935. An educator, literary critic, musician and amateur linguist, Suhor initiated a correspondence with Walker Percy in 1975. At the time of their correspondence, Charles Suhor was English Supervisor for the New Orleans Public Schools.

From the description of Walker Percy and Charles Suhor Letters, 1971-1975. (Loyola University). WorldCat record id: 767525268

American author Walker Percy was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and educated at the University of North Carolina and Columbia University; trained as a doctor, he contracted tuberculosis while working as an intern and, while recovering, began the extensive reading that distinguished his novels and other works. His first published novel, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award in 1962; subsequent philosophical novels of the new South feature accessible writing with serious themes. He has also written influential essays on language, philosophy, psychiatry, and science.

From the description of Walker Percy letter and Christmas card, 1953-1969. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 62590109

Walker Percy was raised in Georgia, Alabama, and Greenville, Miss., and lived most of his adult life in Covington, La. He was the author of six published novels: "The Moviegoer" (1961), "The Last Gentleman" (1966), "Love in the Ruins" (1971), "Lancelot" (1977), "The Second Coming" (1980), and "The Thanatos Syndrome" (1987). He also wrote "The Gramercy Winner" and "The Charterhouse," neither of which was published during his lifetime. Works of non-fiction include "The Message in the Bottle" (1975), "Lost in the Cosmos" (1983), and "Symbol and Existence: A Study in Meaning" (collected essays, unpublished as a collection). He also wrote numerous short stories, book reviews, philosophical pieces relating to language and to religion, especially Catholicism.

From the description of Walker Percy papers, 1910-1992. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 31966166

Novelist, physician, and critic. Born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1916 and died in Covington, La. in 1990.

From the description of [Library of Walker Percy in the Rare Book Collection of the Academic Affairs Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]. 1853-1999. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 57616317

Walker Percy was a Southern author who is best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962.

From the description of Walker Percy interview, 1966. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 270991056

From the description of Walker Percy letter, 1968 Sept. 9. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 271013220

American author.

From the description of Love in the ruins [manuscript], 1971. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647820407

Novelist and essayist Walker Percy was born 28 May 1916 in Birmingham, Ala., the oldest son of Leroy Pratt and Martha Phinizy Percy. After his father's death in 1929, when Percy was 13, the family lived in Athens, Ga., until 1930 when his mother moved the family to Greenville, Miss. Martha Phinizy Percy died on 2 April 1932 in an automobile accident. Thereafter, Percy and his two brothers lived with their father's cousin, William Alexander Percy, lawyer, landowner, and poet of Greenville, Miss. From Greenville, Percy went to the University of North Carolina (B.A., chemistry, 1937) and then to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, from which he was graduated in 1941. The next year, while working as an intern, he contracted tuberculosis and spent the following two years in a sanatorium in the Adirondacks. An attempt to return to Columbia to teach in 1944 failed when he suffered a relapse. Upon his recovery, Percy decided to abandon medicine in favor of a career in writing.

In 1946, Percy married Mary Townsend ( Bunt ), a native of Mississippi, and settled shortly afterwards in Covington, La. He and his wife became Roman Catholics at about the time of their marriage. Percy published a number of essays in the 1950s and his first published novel, The Moviegoer, won the 1962 National Book Award for fiction. Other published novels were The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). He published two works of non-fiction, The Message in the Bottle (1975) and Lost in the Cosmos (1983).

Walker Percy died of cancer on 10 May 1990. He was survived by his wife and their two daughters, Mary Pratt Percy Lobdell and Ann Boyd Percy Moores.

(This note draws from material in Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary ; Robert Coles, Walker Percy: An American Search ; and the Encyclopedia of Southern History .)

From the guide to the Walker Percy Papers, circa 1910-1992, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Cover letters
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Male authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Families--Social life and customs
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Existentialism in literature
  • Novelists, American--20th century
  • National Book Awards
  • Books--Reviews
  • American fiction--20th century
  • American literature--20th century


  • Collector
  • Authors, American--Louisiana


  • Southern States (as recorded)
  • Mississippi (as recorded)
  • Louisiana (as recorded)
  • Louisiana (as recorded)