William Wright (author)

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For other people named William Wright, see William Wright (disambiguation).
William Wright
Born (1930-10-22) October 22, 1930 (age 84)
Philadelphia, United States
Occupation Editor and Author
Language English
Alma mater Yale University
Genre Non-fiction

William Wright (born October 22, 1930) is an American author, editor and playwright. He is best known for his non fiction writing covering a wildly divergent list of subjects: from the April in Paris Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria to genetics and behavior to true crime and grand opera.

The great Harvard naturalist and author, E. O. Wilson, said of Wright's Born that Way, Genes, Behavior, Personality: "It takes an independent writer and free spirit to tell the story straight, and thank God Wright has done it."

In addition to Lillian Hellman, the Image and the Woman, Wright's books include The Von Bulow Affair, and two books with and about Luciano Pavarotti: Pavarotti, My Own Story and Pavarotti, My World.


Wright was born in Philadelphia, the son of William C. Wright Sr. and Josephine Hartshorne Wright. He graduated at the Germantown Friends School and earned his B.A. at Yale University. In the U.S. Army, he completed training in Chinese at the Language School in Monterey, California and served as an Army translator and interpreter in Japan, Okinawa and on the USS Oriskany.


After his Army service, Wright was an editor at Holiday magazine when it was located in Philadelphia and published the likes of John Steinbeck, V.S. Pritchett and Lawrence Durrell. When Holiday became a casualty of the Curtis Publishing Company’s disintegration, Wright accepted a bizarre offer from composer Gian Carlo Menotti to become manager of Menotti’s Spoleto Festival, then held only in Italy. Wright’s job was to oversee the production of some ten events put on by the festival’s U.S. side. Each of his events was successful, but the overall festival was a financial disaster. Unnerved, Wright resigned.

After struggling for five years writing magazine articles, Wright accepted an offer to become the editor of Chicago Magazine, which he did from 1969 to 1971. Although the magazine was well received by both Chicagoans and advertisers, his tenure was cut short when the magazine was closed down for making jibes at the elder Mayor Richard Daley. Although offered editorial positions at three other publications, Wright turned to writing full-time and has been doing so ever since, mostly authoring non-fiction books.



  • Ball, 1972, Saturday Review Press
  • Heiress, the Rich Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1978, New Republic Books
  • Rich Relations, a novel, 1980, G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Pavarotti, My Own Story, 1981, Doubleday
  • The Von Bulow Affair, 1983, Delacorte Press
  • Lillian Hellman, the Image, the Woman, 1986, Simon and Schuster
  • All the Pain Money Can Buy: The Life of Christina Onassis, 1991, Simon and Schuster
  • Sins of the Father, with Eileen Franklin. 1991, Crown Publishers
  • Pavarotti, My World, 1995, Crown Publishers
  • Born that Way, Genes, Behavior, Personality, 1998, Alfred A. Knopf
  • Harvard’s Secret Court, 2005, St. Martin’s Press


  • Songs of Naples, a PBS special with Luciano Pavarotti


  • The Julia Wars, Lillian Hellman’s legal battle with Mary McCarthy
  • Dreams and Decay in the Winter Palace, the descent of Catherine the Great from idealistic liberalism to decadent conservatism

Notable reviews[edit]

  • The Showgirl and Her (Many) Princes a review of Gold Digger by Constance Rosenblum, May 17, 2000 New York Times.[1]
  • The Love-Hate Themes in Albee’s Life and Work a review of EDWARD ALBEE biography by Mel Gussow, August 23, 1999, New York Times.[2]
  • Why Lillian Hellman Remains Fascinating stage view article in The New York Times November 3, 1996.[3]


  1. ^ "The Showgirl and Her (Many) Princes". New York Times. 17 May 2000. 
  2. ^ "The Love-Hate Themes in Albee’s Life and Work". New York Times. 23 August 1999. 
  3. ^ "Why Lillian Hellman Remains Fascinating". New York Times. 3 November 1996.