Writer William Hoffman ’53 Dies

William Hoffman

William Hoffman

William Hoffman ’53, the acclaimed fiction writer and the recipient of a 1995 honorary degree from Washington and Lee, died on Sept. 13, in Farmville, Va. He was 84. Among his 14 novels, four short-story collections, one play and numerous published stories is the novel Tidewater Blood, which won the Hammett Prize for literary excellence in crime writing from the International Association of Crime Writers. It was one of many awards he received over his long career, during which he wrote often about his native South. A longtime resident of Charlotte Court House, Va., he served as writer-in-residence and teacher of creative writing at Hampden-Sydney College, his undergraduate alma mater.

Hoffman attended W&L as a law student from 1949 to 1950. A writing class with George Foster so captivated him that he decided to follow the literary life. (He always pointed out that his classmates John P. Bowen Jr. ’51 and Tom Wolfe ’51 also pursued writing careers.) Hoffman worked on the fledgling Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, founded in 1950, and belonged to Sigma Chi fraternity. Over the years, Hoffman contributed several stories to Shenandoah, which twice gave him the Goodheart Prize for Fiction, in 1989 and in 1993.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Sue Richardson Hoffman; his daughters, Ruth Beckley Hoffman and Margaret Kay Huffman; a sister and three grandchildren. A complete obituary will appear in the Fall 2009 issue of the alumni magazine.

Read these online obituaries:

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Farmville Herald

And this editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

1 Response to “Writer William Hoffman ’53 Dies”

  1. 1 Jeffrey Pillow November 20, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    William Hoffman will go down as one of the great American novelists of the 20th century one day. I have no doubt he will earn his due respect in time.

    I was fortunate enough to meet him for the first time at church just weeks before his death. He and my wife were neighbors and attended the same church in Charlotte Court House. She had urged me for almost a year to get enough courage to speak to him. And I finally did.

    As a writer myself and also as a reader of Hoffman, I had always been intimidated by him growing up. He was so mysterious to me. He was “the writer” who lived down the road that I always saw walking the sidewalk on the way to my grandparents’.

    Hoffman’s passing is a great loss in American literary history. His funeral really captured the person and writer he was. I enjoyed your short article and would encourage anyone and everyone to read his novels “Lies” or “Yancey’s War.”

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