Bio: A Southern-born novelist with anything but a predictably Southern voice or style, William Styron (b. 1925) has created a small but remarkable body of work. Styron was born in Newport News, Va., and graduated from Duke University in 1947, after serving in the Marine Corps. He began his first novel Lie Down in Darkness that same year, though it was not published until 1951, establishing him as one of the most important writers of his generation. After a period in Paris, where he co-founded The Paris Review, Styron returned to the U.S., where he published the acclaimed novella The Long March in 1953 and a large-scale novel Set This House On Fire seven years later.
It was the publication of The Confessions of Nat Turner in 1967 that made Styron a cause célèbre in American letters. Hugely controversial, the novel nonetheless was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for 1967 and later the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Another 12 years would pass before Styron's next novel appeared, and Sophie's Choice (1979)--which dealt with the Holocaust--drew a reaction virtually as passionate as that which greeted The Confessions of Nat Turner. Sophie's Choice won the National Book Award in fiction in 1980, and it was recently chosen both by the Modern Library and by the Radcliffe Publishing Course as one of the 100 best novels written in English in the 20th century.
In 1982, Styron published a collection of essays entitled This Quiet Dust and Other Writing. For much of the 1980s, he wrestled with clinical depression, an ordeal that he movingly described in Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, published as a book in 1990. The book was an expanded form of a Vanity Fair article that won a National Magazine Award in 1989. His most recent published work A Tidewater Morning includes three stories told by a boy who grows up in the Tidewater region of Virginia. One of the stories has been made into the film Shadrach, directed by Styron's daughter, for which the author collaborated on the screenplay.
The Holocaust becomes a breathtaking personal drama, in the midst of a vast cataclysm, in William Styron's Sophie's Choice, a big and questing novel with autobiographical elements and a fearless determination to explore a particular human dimension of a historical nightmare. The novel speaks through the voice of Styron's alter ego, a polite young Tidewater Virginian called Stingo who comes to New York in 1947 in the hopes of being a writer. With a small legacy that will enable him to devote hims... more info>>
Few modern American novelists have dared as much as William Styron in writing The Confessions of Nat Turner. A white man and a Tidewater Virginian by birth, Styron put himself inside the life and mind of Nat Turner, the black man who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. It is a true story told as a novel, though the author prefers to call it "a meditation on history" rather than a historical novel. Many black critics scorned it when it was published, refusing to accept Styron's bold concei... more info>>