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Walker Percy


Walker Percy was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1916. His father was a lawyer, who killed himself when Percy was thirteen. His mother died in a car accident three years later. In his novels, the suicide of a father and absence of a mother are key. After his mother’s death, Percy and his brothers were brought up in Greenville, Mississippi, by their cousin, William Alexander Percy, a lawyer, poet and author of Lanterns on the Levee. Percy went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then studied medicine at Columbia. However, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis, which required extended treatment. In 1946, he married and converted to Catholicism. He and his wife moved to New Orleans, where he started writing. His first two novels were not published so he turned to philosophical essays. He returned to the novel and soon found critical and commercial success with The Moviegoer. He continued to produce a series of novels which explored and often criticised the cultural mores of the country of the time as well as being deeply philosophical. After The Thanatos Syndrome, his last novel, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He spent his time on writing essays on semiotics. He died in 1990. He will be remembered for producing a series of excellent novels on the loss of spirituality of contemporary American society and how the individual should confront this loss.

Books about Walker Percy

Patrick Samway: Walker Percy: A Life
Jay Tolson: Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy

Other links

Walker Percy
Walker Percy
Walker Percy
Traveling with Walker Percy
Whither Walker Percy?
Walker Percy: Diagnostician of the Modern Malaise
Walker Percy and Bruce Springsteen
Walker Percy’s library with interview
Interview (Percy interviews himself)


1961 The Moviegoer
1966 The Last Gentleman
1971 Love in the Ruins
1975 The Message in the Bottle
1977 Lancelot
1978 Going Back to Georgia
1979 Questions They Never Asked Me
1980 The Second Coming
1982 Bourbon
1983 Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
1984 How to Be an American Novelist in Spite of Being Southern and Catholic
1985 The City of the Dead
1985 Diagnosing the Modern Malaise
1986 Novel Writing in an Apocalyptic Time
1987 The Thanatos Syndrome
1991 Signposts in a Strange Land
1993 More Conversations with Walker Percy
1995 A Thief of Peirce: The Letters of Kenneth Laine Ketner and Walker Percy
1996 The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy