William Demby

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William Demby
Born William Demby
(1922-12-25)December 25, 1922
Pittsburgh, US
Died May 23, 2013(2013-05-23) (aged 90)
Sag Harbor, US
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1950–2013
Notable awards Anisfield-Wolf's 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award

Lucia Drudi (1950 – div. 1965)

Barbara Morris (2004 – his death)

William Demby (December 25, 1922 – May 23, 2013) was an American writer. His works include Beetlecreek (1950) and The Catacombs (1965).[1]


William Demby was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Dec 25, 1922. His family later transferred to Clarksburg, West Virginia. He studied briefly at West Virginia State University but soon was drafted in an African-American cavalry unit that served in Northafrica and in Italy during World War Two. During his military service he contributed to the Army magazine Stars and Stripes".

After the war he graduated at Fisk University in Nashville, in 1947. Then he emigrated in Italy, in Rome, where he met writer Lucia Drudi, whom he married in 1950. They separated in 1965. Lucia Drudi died in 1995. They had a son, James Gabriele Demby, that composes and teaches music in Italy.

During the Italian period Demby, who was fluent in Italian, worked for many important Italian film directors, among them Federico Fellini, to translate in English screenplays and subtitles for films. He also wrote for various American magazines, among them The Reporter Magazine. He was assistant director for dialogues in Roberto Rossellini's film Europa 51.

In Italy he wrote his first, existentialist, novel, Beetlecreek, and then his second, more experimental novel, The Catacombs.

Later he met his second wife, Barbara Morris, whom he knew from the Fisk University times, a former lawyer with NAACP, whom he married in 2004.

Since 1969 Demby taught English at College of the Staten Island of the City of New York, till the late 1980s. However he often spent time in Italy, in a villa near Florence.

In the 1970s Demby published two novels, Love Story Black and Blueboy.

In 2006 Demby won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for lifetime achievement.

His last novel, King Comus, on the relations between Jews and blacks, was finished in 2008, but remained unpublished.

William Demby died in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, on May 23, 2013.


  1. Beetlecreek, 1950
  2. The Catacombs, 1965
  3. Love Story Black, 1978
  4. Blueboy, 1979
  5. King Comus, 2008 (unpublished)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "William Demby, Author of Experimental Novels, Dies at 90". The New York Times. May 31, 2013. 

External links[edit]