William Styron

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William Clark Styron, Jr. (June 11, 1925 – November 1, 2006) was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work.[1]

For much of his career, Styron was best known for his novels, which included

Styron's influence deepened and his readership expanded with the publication of Darkness Visible in 1990. This memoir, originally intended as a magazine article, chronicled the author's descent into depression and his near-fatal night of "despair beyond despair."[3]


Early years

William Styron was born in the Hilton Village historic district[4] of Newport News, Virginia. He grew up in the South and was steeped in its history. His birthplace was less than a hundred miles from the site of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, later the source for Styron's most famous and controversial novel.

Although Styron’s paternal grandparents had been slave owners, his Northern mother and liberal Southern father gave him a broad perspective on race relations. Styron’s childhood was a difficult one: his father, a shipyard engineer, suffered from clinical depression, which Styron himself would later experience. His mother died from breast cancer in 1939 when Styron was a boy, following a decade-long battle.

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