|Born||Peter Alexander McWilliams
August 5, 1949
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||June 14, 2000
Los Angeles County, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, poet, self-publisher, photographer, activist|
McWilliams was born to a Roman Catholic family in Detroit, one of two sons of Henry G. and Mary (née Taormina; later Fadden) McWilliams. His father worked as a supervisor at a drugstore and his mother was a part-time salesperson.
He attended Allen Park High School and Eastern Michigan University and later enrolled at Maharishi International University. At the age of 17 he wrote a collection of poems called Come Love with Me and Be My Life, which he self-published under the name Versemonger Press.
McWilliams wrote The TM Book in 1975 with Denise Denniston, which was at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for three weeks.
He wrote nearly 40 books including Surviving the Loss of a Love (1971), The Personal Computer Book (1982) and Life 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life in School but Didn't (1990). His 1982 book, The Word Processing Book: A Short Course in Computer Literacy was published during the "computer revolution" and was "highly successful." McWilliams was a photographer and a collection of his own photographs were published in October 1992 in a book titled Portraits - A Book of Photographs by Peter McWilliams (1992).
McWilliams was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996. He was arrested and charged with growing marijuana in 1997. He was released from custody on $250,000 bail and with the "condition that he not use marijuana." His book, Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Society, published in 1993, made a case for the legalization of drugs and became a favored publication of the Libertarian Party. Life 101 and subsequent books list John-Roger (Roger Delano Hinkins), the leader of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness as his co-writer. McWilliams later repudiated the movement, claiming to be the sole author of the books.
McWilliams died on June 14, 2000 in his Los Angeles home, of AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was survived by his mother and brother, Michael McWilliams. At the time he was awaiting sentencing for his conviction of conspiring to "possess, manufacture and sell marijuana."
Cannabis activist Richard Cowan and many critics of the drug policies in the United States have described his death as murder by the U. S. government, insofar as they denied him the use of the medical marijuana which might have prevented his death. William F. Buckley stated that McWilliams was vomiting and in pain when he died.
He is entombed at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California.
- Surviving the Loss of a Love (Versemonger, 1971)
- The McWilliams II Word Processor Instruction Manual (ISBN 0-671-50433-9) (1983)
- You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought (ISBN 0-931580-57-9) (1988)
- Life 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned about Life in School but Didn't (ISBN 978-0-931580-10-9) (1990)
- Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts (1991)
- How to Survive the Loss of a Love, (1991) co-authored with Melba Colgrove and Harold H. Bloomfield
- Come Love With Me and Be My Life (1992)
- Portraits - A Book of Photographs by Peter McWilliams (1992)
- Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society (1993)
- Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You (1994)
- Love 101: To Love Oneself is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance (1995)
- Lehman-Haupt, Christopher (June 26, 2000). "Peter McWilliams Dies at 50; An Author of Self-Help Books". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- Sokol, Al (July 4, 1994). "The 'shame' of depression That's how many people see it. 'Women sit down and cry. Men go out and get drunk,' says one sufferer. But ignoring it will often just make things worse". Toronto Star. p. C1.
- Goldhaber, Nat; Denniston, Denise; McWilliams, Peter (1976). TM: an alphabetical guide to the transcendental meditation program. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-24096-5.
- "Author Peter McWilliams; Marijuana Proponent". The Washington Post. June 18, 2000.
- McWilliams, Peter (1994). Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You. Los Angeles: Prelude Press. ISBN 093158034X.
- BUCKLEY JR., WILLIAM F. (June 24, 2000). "Life cut short – over a forbidden toke". Houston Chronicle. p. 36.