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William March
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    (September 18, 1893-May 15, 1954)
    Born in Mobile, Alabama
    Author and United States Marine Corps veteran of WWI
    Works included the novels 'Company K,' 'The Bad Seed,' 'The Tallons, ' 'Come in at the Door,' 'The Looking Glass,' and 'October Island' and the short story collections 'Trial Balance: The Collected Short Stories of William March,' 'The Little Wife and Other Stories,' 'Some Like Them Short,' 'A William March Omnibus' and '99 Fables'
    Won the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Croix de Guerre for heroism during WWI
    Birth name was William Campbell (March was his mother's maiden name)
    Four time winner of the O Henry Award for best short story of the year
    Reference works examining him and his works include 'The Two Worlds of William March' and 'William March: An Annotated Checklist'
    Works of his to be filmed include 'Company K,' 'The Bad Seed' and the short story, 'The Little Wife'
    Considered among the greatest Southern writers of all time and certainly the greatest in the history of the State of Alabama
    He may have lied about being gassed in WWI.
    The ending of his novel, 'The Bad Seed' was changed when Hollywood filmed it (two years after his death) and its plot has been ripped off innumerable times since it was published.
    He is almost forgotten by the public today.
    The critics adore him.
    He considered 'The Bad Seed' among his weakest works but it was his biggest hit.
    The film version of 'Company K' never received wide release and went almost straight to video.
    He grew up in poverty (second of eleven children) with an alcoholic father and had to finish high school as an adult by taking courses at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
    He suffered terribly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression brought on by his experiences in WWI.
    His possibly false claims of being gassed may have been caused by the horror of seeing fellow Marines being gassed to death literally before his eyes combined with his later emotional difficulties.
    He won his major decorations for dragging wounded comrades (both Marines and French soldiers) to safety and defending their first aid station from Germans less than 300 yards away. All the while badly wounded himself and refusing to be evacuated until the Germans had been driven back.
    Alistair Cooke called him 'the unrecognized genius of our time' and described him as 'The most underrated of all contemporary American writers of fiction.'
    His semi-autobiographical 'Company K' is considered one of the finest war novels of all time and second only to Erich Maria Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Western Front' among the literature of WWI.
    His winning four O. Henry Awards was at that time a record.
    He enrolled at the University of Alabama and Columbia but had to quit both due to a lack of funds.
    He suffered a nervous breakdown at 47 and died in his sleep of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 60.
    Even after achieving success as an author he had to spend much of his adult life working a wide variety of clerking/secretarial type jobs.
    Being a war hero and a literary genius is a pretty good way to be remembered.
    In 'Company K,' one his characters says, 'If the common soldiers of each army could just get together by a river bank and talk things over calmly, no war could possibly last as long as a week.'

Credit: tom_jeffords

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