Author(s): William Styron
In 1950, at the age of twenty-four, William Clark Styron, Jr., wrote to his mentor, Professor William Blackburn of Duke University. The young writer was struggling with his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, and he was nervous about whether his "strain and toil" would amount to anything. "When I mature and broaden," Styron told Blackburn, "I expect to use the language on as exalted and elevated a level as I can sustain. I believe that a writer should accommodate language to his own peculiar personality, and mine wants to use great words, evocative words, when the situation demands them." amp;#160; n 1953, Styron was awarded the Rome Prize of the American Academy in Rome, which crowned him a literary star. In Europe, Styron not only married Rose Burgunder of Baltimore but found himself immersed in a new generation of expatriate writers. His friendship with George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, and James Jones culminated in Styron introducing the debut issue of The Paris Review. Surrounded by young, ambitious litterateurs, Styron wrote in conversation and competition with his peers. As he embarked on a long an
Rose Styron is a poet, journalist, translator, and human rights activist. She has published three books of poetry- Thieves' Afternoon, From Summer to Summer, and By Vineyard Light. At the forefront of the field of international human rights since she joined the board of Amnesty International USA in 1970, she has chaired PEN's Freedom to Write Committee and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Currently, for the Academy of American Poets, she co-chairs, with Meryl Streep, Poetry and the Creative Mind. amp;#160; b>R. Blakeslee Gilpin is the author of John Brown Still Lives! America's Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change, winner of the C. Vann Woodward Prize for the best dissertation in Southern history. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The American Scholar, and The New York Times. An assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, Gilpin specializes in the history, literature, and culture of the American South. He is currently at work on a new biography of William Styron.