William Heath was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He attended Hiram College, where he majored in history, was president pro tem of the college senate, president of his fraternity, and captain and most valuable player of the soccer team, receiving eleven varsity letters in four different sports. He has a M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University; his dissertation was a critical study of American novelist John Hawkes. He taught American literature and creative writing at Kenyon, Transylvania, Vassar, and the University of Seville, where he was a Fulbright professor for two years. In 1981 he began teaching at Mount Saint Mary’s University and served as faculty advisor for the college’s award-winning magazine, Lighted Corners; in addition, he edited a national literary magazine, The Monocacy Valley Review, which also won awards for excellence. In the spring of 2007 he retired as a professor emeritus in the English Department. The William Heath Award in creative writing. is given annually to an undergraduate in his honor. During the academic year 2008-9 he was Sophia M. Libman Professor of Humanities at Hood College.
William Heath’s novel about the civil rights movement in Mississippi, The Children Bob Moses Led (Milkweed Editions 1995, paperback 1997) won the Hackney Literary Award for best novel, was nominated by the publisher for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, and by Joyce Carol Oates for the Ainsfield-Wolf Award. In 2002 Time magazine online judged it one of the eleven best novels of the African American experience. It was reissued in 2014 as a twentieth-anniversary edition by NewSouth Books. His second novel, Blacksnake’s Path: The True Adventures of William Wells (Heritage Books 2008, ebook Argo-Navis 2013), the product of twelve years of research and writing, tells the story of an unsung hero of the American frontier, circa 1780-1812. It was nominated for the James Fenimore Cooper Award for the best historical novel and chosen by the History Book Club as an alternate selection in 2009.
A neo-noir novel about the shooting of a stallion in Lexington, Kentucky, entitled Devil Dancer, was published by Somondoco Press in 2013. His most recent book is a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (University of Oklahoma Press 2015), which won two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America for best Historical Nonfiction book and best First Nonfiction book. His edition of Conversations with Robert Stone will be published by the University of Mississippi Press in 2016. Over a hundred of his poems have appeared in a wide variety of literary magazines and anthologies; the finest of these are collected in The Walking Man (Icarcus Books 1994). He has published over thirty reviews and sixteen scholarly essays on Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, William Styron, and Thomas Berger, among others, in such reputable journals as The Massachusetts Review, The South Carolina Review, The Kenyon Review, The Texas Review, Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, The Journal of American Studies, The Indiana Magazine of History, and Northwest Ohio History.
He and his wife, Roser Caminals-Heath—Professor of Spanish at Hood College and author of seven novels in Catalan published in her native Barcelona (The Street of the Three Beds is available in English)—have lived in Frederick since 1981.
Interviews with the author and copies of his essays are available at his website here.
Explore his book here