On this day in Alabama history: Author William March was born

On this day in Alabama history: Author William March was born
Mobile native William March (1893-1954) was an author, soldier, and businessman whose literary works drew from his early years in Alabama and his experiences in Europe during World War I. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Courtesy of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama Libraries)

Sept. 18, 1893

William Edward Campbell was one of 11 children. His father was the orphaned son of a Confederate soldier who worked as an itinerant laborer. His mother was from a prominent Mobile family. The Campbells had little money and William left school at 14 to work but later obtained a high school diploma and briefly studied law. The defining period in his life was World War I. Enlisting in 1917, he earned the French Croix de Guerre, the Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross for bravery in combat, but his war experiences also left him mentally scarred. He returned to his native Mobile and had a successful career with the Waterman Steamship Company, which posted him to New York, London and Hamburg, Germany. He began to write seriously in the late 1920s using the pen name William March. His first novel, Company K, was based on his war experiences. He ultimately published six novels and numerous short stories. His most acclaimed novel, The Looking-Glass, is a dark tale of life, family, race and class in a small Southern town – a theme he explored often. Although he spent much of his life away from the South, he returned to Mobile and then New Orleans during his later years. His final novel, The Bad Seed, was adapted into a Broadway play and major motion picture. March died in his sleep at his home in New Orleans in 1954.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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