W. E. B. Griffin

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W. E. B. Griffin
BornWilliam Edmund Butterworth III
(1929-11-10)November 10, 1929
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 2019(2019-02-12) (aged 89)
Daphne, Alabama, U.S.
Notable works
The Lieutenants
M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans
Badge of Honor Series
Emma Josefa Macalik
(m. 1950; died 2003)

Maria del Pilar Menendez (died 2018)
Official website Edit this at Wikidata

William Edmund Butterworth III (November 10, 1929 – February 12, 2019),[1] better known by his pen name W. E. B. Griffin, was an American writer of military and detective fiction with 59 novels in seven series published under that name. Twenty-one of those books were co-written with his son, William E Butterworth IV. He also published under 11 other pseudonyms and three versions of his real name (W. E. Butterworth, William E. Butterworth, and William E. Butterworth III).[2]

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Griffin grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. He joined the United States Army in 1946. His military occupation was counterintelligence and in this capacity he served in the Constabulary in Germany, thus earning the Army of Occupation Medal. One of Griffin's duties was delivering food to German general officers and their families, including the widow of would-be Hitler assassin Claus von Stauffenberg. His exposure to German military and civilian aristocracy supplied much of the inspiration for such Griffin creations as Oberst Graf von Greiffenberg, who appears in several of the Brotherhood of War novels.

After completing his active duty military service, Griffin attended Philipps-Universität Marburg at Marburg-an-der-Lahn. His college days were cut short in 1951 when he was recalled to serve in the Korean War.[1]

In Korea he first served as an official Army war correspondent with the 223rd Infantry Regiment, then as public information officer for U.S. X Corps, which included the 1st Marine Division.[3] Griffin received the Combat Infantryman Badge for service at the front lines.[4] His knowledge of combat and garrison life and his friendships with military personnel from different services would well serve his writing. Many of his books are dedicated to fallen comrades who died in Korea or later on in Vietnam or while serving with the international peacekeeping force dispatched during the Lebanese Civil War. Griffin was modest about his own service. He once told a Barnes & Noble interviewer:

My own military background is wholly undistinguished. I was a sergeant. What happened was that I was incredibly lucky in getting to be around some truly distinguished senior officers, sergeants, and spooks.[5]

Writing career[edit]

After the end of the Korean War, Griffin continued to work for the military in a civilian capacity as Chief of the Publications Division of the U.S. Army Signal Aviation Test & Support Activity at Fort Rucker, Alabama. After his first three novels proved successful, he left this job to pursue writing full-time. To date, he has 160 fiction and nonfiction works to his credit. He was well-known and respected in the literary world for his thrillers and crime novels.[6]

His son William E. Butterworth IV (previously editor of Boys' Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America) co-authored some of his books. Butterworth fils was a long-time editor who moved from assisting in editing his father's work to collaborator. As of July 2015, he has been co-author of sixteen Griffin books in five different novel series. He was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Mystery Writers Key West Fest.[7]

Griffin's knowledge of military jargon and administrative writing style shows when fictional orders and dispatches are incorporated in his novels. Many of his characters must battle red tape and bureaucratic mix-ups, sometimes making humorous end-runs around the system.

Griffin was the co-founder of the William E. Colby Seminar on Intelligence, Military, and Diplomatic Affairs at Norwich University in Vermont, along with his friend, historian and Patton biographer Colonel Carlo D'Este. Griffin was a member of the Colby Circle, having participated in the William E. Colby Writers Symposium at Norwich University.[8]

Family life[edit]

In 1950, Griffin married Emma Macalik Butterworth, a ballet dancer and the author of As the Waltz Was Ending, a memoir of her life growing up as a dancer in Vienna during World War II. They had a daughter (Patricia) and two sons (John S. II and William E. IV). The marriage ended in divorce in the 1990s.[9]Emma died from lung cancer in 2003.[10]

Griffin later married Maria del Pilar Menendez, whom he had met in Argentina. She died in 2018.[11]

Griffin died in February 2019 from colorectal cancer at the age of 89.[11]

List of written works[edit]

The following is the list of books written by W.E.B. Griffin:[12]


  1. ^ a b "W.E.B. Griffin, Military Man and Writer, Dies at 89". Publisher's Weekly. February 15, 2019.
  2. ^ "W.E.B. Griffin :: Tour Info & Book Signings". www.webgriffin.com.
  3. ^ Blankenship, Janie. "Vets of WWI Through Vietnam Became Famous in the Literary World", VFW Magazine (April 2015), p. 48.
  4. ^ "W.E.B. Griffin :: The Authors". webgriffin.com.
  5. ^ LeCount, Andrew (2000). Meet the Authors: W.E.B. Griffin (interview). Barnes and Noble website. Retrieved 2008-07-05
  6. ^ "The Last Witness: A Badge of Honor Novel | Bookreporter.com" – via www.bookreporter.com.
  7. ^ Poster, Mystery Writers Key West Fest, June 2014
  8. ^ "The Colby Circle – The William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium".
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/obituaries/web-griffin-dies.html
  10. ^ "E.M. Butterworth - In Remembrance". January 6, 2013. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Slotnik, Daniel E. (February 22, 2019). "W.E.B. Griffin, 89, Dies; a Best-Selling Novelist Dozens of Times" – via NYTimes.com.
  12. ^ "W.E.B. Griffin :: The Authors". webgriffin.com.

External links[edit]