William Wharton (author) bigraphy, stories - American author

William Wharton (author) : biography

7 November 1925 - 29 October 2008

William Wharton (7 November 1925 – 29 October 2008), the pen name of the author Albert William Du Aime (pronounced as doo-EM), was an American-born author best known for his first novel Birdy, which was also successful as a film.


  • 1978 • Birdy
  • 1981 • Dad
  • 1982 • A Midnight Clear
  • 1984 • Scumbler
  • 1985 • Pride
  • 1987 • Tidings
  • 1989 • Franky Furbo
  • 1991 • Last Lovers
  • 1994 • Wrongful Deaths (memoir)
  • 1996 • Houseboat on Seine (memoir)
  • 2012 • Shrapnel

The following titles were only published in Polish - includes English translation of title

  • 1998 • Historie rodzinne - Say Uncle
  • 1999 • Al (sequel to Birdy) - Al (subtitle) Worth Trying (?)
  • 1999 • William Wharton - Album (reproductions of paintings)
  • 1999 • Opowieści z Moulin du Bruit - Tales of the Moulin Du Bruit
  • 2000 • Tam, gdzie spotykają się wszystkie światy - Beyond the Closet
  • 2001 • Niedobre miejsce - A Hard Place
  • 2001 • Nigdy, nigdy mnie nie złapiecie - Nyah, Nyah, You Can't Catch Me
  • 2002 • Nie ustawaj w biegu - Run, Run, Run
  • 2003 • Rubio - (roughly 'fair-haired' or blonde - from Spanish)

"Beyond the Closet" was also published in Bulgarian with the title "Отвъд килера" (2007)


Wharton was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From "a poor, hard-working, ignorant Catholic family", he graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1943, and was inducted into the school's Wall of Fame in 1997. During World War II, Wharton served in the United States Army and was first assigned to an engineering unit. He was transferred to the infantry, and was severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. His memoirs included an account of his role in the killing of German prisoners during the war - "War for me , though brief, had been a soul-shaking trauma. I was scared,miserable,and I lost confidence in human beings,especially myself." After his discharge, he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received an undergraduate degree in art and a doctorate in psychology, later teaching art in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

His first novel Birdy was published in 1978 when he was more than 50 years old. Birdy was a critical and popular success and it won the U.S. National Book Award in category First Novel. . National Book Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2012. (With essay by Dorianne Laux from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.) • First novels or first works of fiction were recognized from 1980 to 1985. Alan Parker directed a film version starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine. After the publication of Birdy and through the early 1990s, Wharton published eight novels, including Dad and A Midnight Clear, both of which were also made into films, the former starring Jack Lemmon.

Many of the protagonists of Wharton's novels, despite having different names and backgrounds, have similar experiences, attitudes, and traits that lead one to presume that they are partly autobiographical. There is precious little certifiable biography available about Wharton / Du Aime. Based on the novels, one can surmise that he served in France and Germany in World War II in the 87th Infantry Division, was a painter, spent part of his adult life living on a houseboat as an artist in France, raised four children, was a reasonably skilled carpenter and handyman, and suffered from profound gastrointestinal problems.

In 1988, Wharton's daughter, Kate, his son-in-law Bill, and their two children, two-year-old Dayiel and eight-month-old Mia, were killed in a horrific 23-car motor vehicle accident near Albany, Oregon, that was caused by smoke generated by grass-burning on nearby farmland. Wharton wrote a (mostly) non-fiction book, Ever After: A Father's True Story (1995), which recounts the incidents leading to the accident, his family's subsequent grief, and the three years which he devoted to pursuing redress in the Oregon court system for the field-burning that caused the accident. Houseboat on Seine, a memoir, was published in 1996, about Wharton's purchase and renovation of a houseboat.

It is worth noting that he gained an enormous and unusual popularity in Poland, where many extra editions as well as visits followed and eventually some works were prepared and published only in Polish (see the Bibliography).

Movies based on Wharton's books

  • Birdy (1984)
  • Dad (1989)
  • A Midnight Clear (1992)
Living octopus

Living octopus

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