Resident Story: A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

December 20, 2018
 Pulitzer Prize winning author featured next to Kendal Authors section in Library


If you ever get the chance to visit the library at Kendal on Hudson, you will find a unique section of books called “Kendal Authors.” This section is filled with books written by current and past residents at Kendal on Hudson. One book, Grant: A Biography, will likely stand out—it received a Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Bill, a resident is its author.

A Love of History

Bill was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. He attended Amherst College, where he received his Bachelor’s of Arts. He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1966. “I was very interested in the civil rights movement that was taking place during the time I was in graduate school,” Bill explained. “To understand the 1960s, I studied the 1860s. That was in the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War when most of the civil rights problems began.”

Even though Bill discovered his love for history early on, he didn’t start writing books until he was 40 years old. Grant: A Biography was published in 1981 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1982. The biography of Ulysses S. Grant recounts his boyhood in Ohio, his time on the Civil War battlefields and his time as the 18th President of the United States.

“My inspiration to write this book came from my fascination with a photo of Grant standing in front of his tent while he was in command during the Civil War. As president, Grant appointed Attorney General and former Confederate General, Amos T. Akerman, and actively persecuted the Ku Klux Klan in the South.

Other Works and Awards

Besides the Pulitzer Prize, Grant: A Biography,Bill has also won the Lincoln Prize in 1992 for Frederick Douglass, which explores the fascinating life of one of the nineteenth century’s greatest men. Born a slave, Douglass escaped and became an orator, journalist and revolutionary.

His favorite of his books is Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk into Freedom. In this book, Bill explains the history, and current life, of the people who inhabit Sapelo’s Island located off the coast of Georgia. The people who live on Sapelo’s Island are descendants of slaves who once worked on the island’s cotton plantations. “I enjoyed getting to know these descendants and learning more about them,” Bill said.

Bill retired as an Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities emeritus at the University of Georgia in 1997. He still enjoys writing during his retirement.

Why Kendal on Hudson?

Bill and his late wife had college friends who live at Kendal on Hudson and had good things to say about the community. Their children also live near Sleepy Hollow.

Bill actively participates in Kendal on Hudson’s resident-driven committees. He is a member of the Library Committee and you can see him on duty in the Kendal on Hudson Library on Wednesdays.

As an active member of the Education Committee, Bill also helps out with bringing in speakers to educate residents who enjoy lifelong learning. He also assists the Music Committee in bringing in musicians to perform for residents on Sunday afternoons. He also conducts seminars for his fellow residents.

What does Bill enjoy most about Kendal on Hudson?

“I have a lot of fun in the art room and being creative,” Bill said. “I also really enjoy the music concerts.”

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