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William Styron


William Styron was born in 1925 near Newport News, Virginia. His father was a marine engineer but, as his son would later do, suffered from clinical depression. His mother died from breast cancer in 1938. He graduated from Duke University in 1947 with a B. A. in English, after serving in the Marines. He lived the rest of his life in the North. He first worked for McGraw-Hill in New York, a career that will be echoed in the character of Stingo in Sophie’s Choice. After being fired, he started writing his first novel, published three years later as Lie Down in Darkness. The novel had considerable success but he was unable to enjoy it immediately, as he again had to serve in the military during the Korean War. The experience would feature in his second novel. After leaving the military he travelled in Europe before writing his controversial novel The Confessions of Nat Turner. His next novel, Sophie’s Choice, was also controversial as its heroine was a non-Jewish Holocaust victim. He never repeated his earlier success and, later in life, suffered from clinical depression, about which he wrote a memoir. He died in 2006. He will be remembered for producing several well-written books dealing with complex and controversial topics

Books about William Styron

James L West: William Styron: A Life

Other links

William Styron
William Styron
Tidewater traumas
A close ‘Reading’ of William Styron (interview with his daughter)


1951 Lie Down in Darkness (novel)
1957 The Long March (novel)
1960 Set This House on Fire (novel)
1962 As He Lay Dead, A Bitter Grief (impressions of Faulkner’s funeral)
1965 The Four Seasons (essay)
1967 The Confessions of Nat Turner (novel)
1973 In the Clap Shack (drama)
1977 Christchurch (address delivered at Christchurch School)
1978 Admiral Robert Penn Warren and the Snows of Winter: A Tribute
1978 Shadrach (story; originally part of Sophie’s Choice
1979 Sophie’s Choice (novel)
1979 The Message of Auschwitz
1981 Against Fear (address delivered to the graduating class of Duke University)
1981 The Achievement of William Styron (autobiography)
1982 This Quiet Dust and Other Writings (essays)
1984 Mr. Jefferson and Our Times
1988 Blankenship (story)
1990 Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
1993 A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth
1993 A Chance in a Million (story)
1993 Inheritance of Night: Early Drafts of Lie Down in Darkness
1994 Fathers and Daughters: In Their Own Words, Chronicle Books (with Mariana Ruth Cook)
1997 Grateful Words about F. Scott Fitzgerald
1999 Dead Run: The Untold Story of Dennis Stockton and America’s Only Mass Escape from Death Row (with others)
2008 Havanas in Camelot: Personal Essays
2009 Letters to My Father
2009 The Suicide Run: Five Tales of the Marine Corps
2012 Selected Letters of William Styron.
2015 My Generation: Collected Nonfiction