William Heath was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on June 27th, 1942. He attended Hiram College, where he majored in history, was president pro tem of the college senate, president of his fraternity, and received eleven varsity letters in four different sports. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University. His dissertation was a critical study of the American novelist John Hawkes. He has taught American literature and creative writing at Kenyon, Transylvania, Vassar, and the University of Seville, where he was the Fulbright professor of American literature for two years. Since 1981 he taught at Mount Saint Mary’s University and served as faculty advisor for the college’s award-winning undergraduate magazine, Lighted Corners; for eight years he edited a national literary magazine, The Monocacy Valley Review, which also won national awards for excellence. In the spring of 2007 he retired as a Professor Emeritus. The William Heath Award is given annually to the best student creative writer. In 2008-9 he was the Sophia M. Libman Professor of Humanities at Hood College, where he directed a “Cultural Encounters” series of guest lecturers and artistic performances. He has taught part-time in the graduate Humanities department and the honors program at Hood.
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 the Pulitzer Prize, and by Joyce Carol Oates for the Ainsfield-Wolf Award. In 2002 Time magazine judged it one of the eleven best novels on the African American experience. It was reissued in a twentieth anniversary edition from NewSouth Books in 2014. His second novel, Blacksnake’s Path: The True Adventures of William Wells (Heritage Books 2008), 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. His neo-noir crime novel Devil Dancer was published by Somondoco Press in 2013. William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015, paperback 2017) won two Spur Awards for best history book and best first nonfiction book as well as the Oliver Hazard Perry Award for Ohio-related military history. He edited Conversations with Robert Stone (University of Mississippi Press, 2016, paperback 2018). Over three-hundred of his poems have appeared in literary magazines, reviews, and anthologies; the finest are collected in The Walking Man (Icarus Books 1994), Steel Valley Elegy (Kelsay Books, 2022), and Going Places (Kelsay Books, 2023). He has also published two chapbooks of poetry, Night Moves in Ohio (Finishing Line Press) and Leaving Seville (Presa Press). Over thirty reviews and twenty scholarly essays on Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, William Styron, Thomas Berger, Robert Stone, and Frank Bergon among others, as well as historical studies of Thomas Morton and William Wells, have appeared in such reputable journals as The Massachusetts Review, The South Carolina Review, The Southern 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 Emeritus of Spanish at Hood College and author of ten novels in Catalan published in her native Barcelona—lived in Frederick, Maryland since 1981 and in 2022 moved to Annapolis, Maryland.
Interviews are available at The Corland Review, and at Case Western University. A study guide for The Children Bob Moses Led is available at New South Books. Visit the author’s webpage: www.williamheathbooks.com, which includes videos, interviews, readings, as well as all of his essays.