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William Gaddis

William Gaddis (1922–1998) was born in Manhattan, and reared on Long Island. He attended Harvard during World War II, but left without a degree in 1945. He was a fact-checker at The New Yorker for a little over a year, during which time he began writing short stories. In 1945 he embarked on a course of travel, living in Mexico, Panama, Spain, and France, while starting his first novel. The Recognitions was published in 1955 to largely negative reviews, though it found an underground following. Over the next twenty years, Gaddis was employed by various companies as an industrial writer, and taught part-time (mostly at Bard) while working on his second novel, J R, which was finally published in 1975, winning the National Book Award. Ten years later he published his third novel, Carpenter’s Gothic, which was also well received, and nine years later published his fourth novel, A Frolic of His Own, which won the National Book Award in 1994. Just before his death in 1998 he finished a novella, Agapē Agape, which was published in 2002 along with a collection of his essays, The Rush for Second Place. He was the recipient of grants and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and Lannan Foundation, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His letters were published in 2013, and his work has been the subject of more than a dozen books and numerous essays.