Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Novelist William Wharton Passes On

Painter turned writer William Wharton passed on Ocober 29 at the age of 82. The cause was infection.

Wharton was born Albert William Du Aime Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 7, 1925. He attended Upper Darby High School there. During World War II he volunteered to serve the United States Army. Following the war he attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he majored in art and later received a doctorate in psychology. He taught for a time in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In 1960 Wharton moved his family to Europe where he made a living as an impressionist painter. He settled in Paris in in 1968. His first novel, Birdy was published in 1978. The novel, roughly based on Wharton's own experiences during World War II, dealt with two friends and Vietnam veterans, one of whom eventually goes to a mental hospital thinking he is a canary. Birdy proved highly successful, even being adapted as a motion picture released in 1984. Wharton would follow Birdy up with seven more novels in English, including Dad and A Midnight Clear. He would publish several more books in Spanish. Dad was made in to a movie released in 1989, while A Midnight Clear was adapted as a TV movie in 1992. Many works were at least partially autobiographical.

William Wharton was one of those few modern day writers loved by both critics and the public. Not only did his novels sell well, but he also received his share of critical acclaim. Aside from being partially autobiographical, Wharton's novels shared in common the fact that he wrote them with a good deal of detail. By way of example, Birdy contains a good deal of information on canaries. Wharton was one of the few writers today whose books not only sold well, but received good notices from critics as well.

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