William Hjortsberg

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William Hjortsberg
Born(1941-02-23)February 23, 1941
New York City, New York, United States
DiedApril 22, 2017(2017-04-22) (aged 76)
Livingston, Montana
OccupationNovelist, screenwriter
GenreMystery, screenwriting

William Reinhold "Gatz" Hjortsberg[1][2] (February 23, 1941 – April 22, 2017[3][4]) was an American novelist and screenwriter, known for his originality and for writing the screenplay of the film Legend.[2][5]

His novel Falling Angel was the basis for the film Angel Heart (1987).[6] The novel was adapted into an opera in 2015, composed by J. Mark Scearce with a libretto by Lucy Thurber.[4][7][8]

His 2015 novel Mañana is a thriller set in Mexico.[9]

Hjortsberg the only child of a Swedish restaurateur father and a Swiss mother. He attended Dartmouth College, the Yale School of Drama (where he met Thomas McGuane), and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He was married three times, and had a son and a daughter.[2][3] He died of pancreatic cancer.[2]




  • Hjortsberg, William (2012). Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan. Counterpoint Press. ISBN 9781582437903. A biography of writer Richard Brautigan.


  1. ^ McGuane, Thomas (2007). Conversations with Thomas McGuane (1st ed.). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. xv. ISBN 9781578068876.
  2. ^ a b c d Vollers, Maryanne (28 April 2017). "A Writer to the Very End: Remembering the Great "Gatz"". Literary Hub. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b "William Hjortsberg obituary". the Guardian. 7 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b "William Hjortsberg, writer behind Legend and Angel Heart, dies at 76". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  5. ^ "William Hjortsberg". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2015. Archived from the original on 2014-08-11.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 6, 1987). "Angel Heart (1987) FILM: MICKEY ROURKE STARS IN 'ANGEL HEART'". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Waddington, Chris. "'Angel Heart' film reborn in New York as 'Falling Angel' opera: Will Satan win again?". NOLA.com. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  8. ^ "OPERA America Members Portal". apps.operaamerica.org. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Writes of Spring: Fresh Crime Yarns to Chase Away the Chill". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 23 May 2022.

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