William Styron, 12th Annual ODU Literary Festival


William Styron

Document Type

Featured Participant

Festival Date



Mills Godwin Life Sciences Auditorium

Author/Artist Bio

Born in Newport News, William Styron has become one of the South's and the nation's leading writers, a winner of the Prix de Rome, the Pulitzer Prize, and the American Book Award. Of his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, 1951, winner of the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, critics said, "...there is evidence of so much life having been poured into the narrative, that we might have a legitimate apprehension after it, not as to the writer's talent, but as to his resilience and reserves." His novella, The Long March, 1957, was called "a small masterpiece." In Set This House on Fire, 1960, Styron "pushed his explorations of the nature and meaning of human value...to the point where the essential act of staying alive is itself at stake, is the central question of his novels." The Confessions of Nat Turner, 1967, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, "places Styron squarely at the center of the Southern tradition so as to develop it, carry it a stage further...now it is the common history of white and black that comes under scrutiny." Sophie's Choice, 1979, winner of the American Book Award, was called "an ambiguous, masterful, and enormously satisfying novel." His other works include In The Clap Shack, a play, 1972, and This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, 1982. In 1985, Conversations With William Styron appeared, edited by James L. West.


Recently, William Styron had given only two or three readings from his work each year; we were extremely fortunate that one of those was the 1989 Festival Preview and Fund Raiser at 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, in the Mills Godwin Auditorium.


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