Winston Groom

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Winston Groom
Groom speaking into a microphone
Groom in 2014
BornWinston Francis Groom Jr.
(1943-03-23)March 23, 1943
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedSeptember 17, 2020(2020-09-17) (aged 77)
Fairhope, Alabama, U.S.
EducationUMS-Wright Preparatory School
Alma materUniversity of Alabama

Winston Francis Groom Jr. (March 23, 1943 – September 17, 2020)[1][2] was an American novelist and non-fiction writer. He is best known for his 1986 novel Forrest Gump, which was adapted into the popular 1994 film Forrest Gump directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film was considered a cultural phenomenon and won six Academy Awards. He published a sequel, Gump and Co., in 1995. He also wrote numerous non-fiction works, on diverse subjects including the American Civil War and World War I.

Early life[edit]

Groom was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Ruth (Knudsen) and Winston Francis Groom.[3] He was raised in Mobile County, Alabama, where he attended University Military School (now known as UMS-Wright Preparatory School).[1] Groom's earliest ambition was to become a lawyer like his father; but, instead, while a literary editor in college, he chose to become a writer. Groom attended the University of Alabama, where he became a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity[1] and the Army ROTC, and graduated with Omicron Delta Kappa honors in 1965.[1]

He served in the United States Army from 1965 to 1967, including a tour of duty in the Vietnam War (from 66–67). Most of his service time was spent with the Fourth Infantry Division.[1]


Upon his return from Vietnam, Groom worked as a reporter for the Washington Star, a Washington, D. C. newspaper covering the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. federal courts. Groom resigned to pursue a career in writing novels. Groom's first novel was Better Times Than These which was published in 1978.[4] Better Times Than These was about a rifle company in the Vietnam War whose patriotism and lives are shattered.

His next novel As Summers Die (1980) received better recognition. His book Conversations with the Enemy (1982) follows an American Vietnam War soldier who escapes from a POW camp and takes a plane back to the United States only to be arrested fourteen years later for desertion. Conversations with the Enemy was a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction finalist in 1984.[5]

In 1985, Groom moved back to Mobile, Alabama, where he began to work on the novel Forrest Gump. The book had its origins in a story told to Groom by his elderly father about a mentally disabled boy he had known as a child. Groom began writing Forrest Gump the same day, and within six weeks the novel was finished.[6] Forrest Gump was published in 1986, and was adapted into a 1994 film of the same name starring Tom Hanks in the title role of Forrest Gump. The film propelled the novel to best-seller status, and it sold 1.7 million copies worldwide. However, Paramount Pictures utilized Hollywood accounting to deflate profitability numbers of the film and Groom received no payment for his 3% profit share in it.

In November 2011, Groom introduced his latest history book, Kearny's March: The Epic Creation of the American West, 1846–1847. Groom describes how Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny's quest for westward adventure coincides with the expansionist desires of the U.S. President, James K. Polk. Anchored in mid-summer 1846, the context for both the adventures and expansionism is the Texas Annexation, the Mexican–American War, and the backdrop to the American Civil War. Groom weaves into Kearny's March mountain man Kit Carson, Brigham Young and his Mormon followers, and members of the Donner party.

In 2016, El Paso, Groom's first novel in nearly 20 years, was published.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Groom was married three times, and was divorced twice.[8] He had one daughter.[1]

Groom, who was 6 feet 6 inches tall,[6] lived in Alabama,[1] and died from a suspected heart attack at his home in Fairhope on September 17, 2020, at age 77.[8][9]



  • Better Times Than These. Simon and Schuster. 1978. ISBN 978-0-671-52266-7.
  • As Summers Die (1980), ISBN 9780671522650
  • Only. Simon and Schuster. 1984. ISBN 978-0-671-52267-4.
  • Forrest Gump (1986); Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012, ISBN 9780307947406
  • Gone the Sun (1988); 1996, ISBN 9780671535162
  • Gump and Co. (1995) ISBN 0671521705 OCLC 32988843
  • Such a Pretty, Pretty Girl (1998) ISBN 0375501614
  • El Paso (2016) ISBN 978-1631492242


  • Conversations with the Enemy: the story of P.F.C. Robert Garwood (1982, with Duncan Spencer) ISBN 0399127151 OCLC 9044556
  • Shrouds of Glory: From Atlanta to Nashville: The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War (1995) ISBN 0871135914 OCLC 31376792
  • The Crimson Tide: An Illustrated History of Football at the University of Alabama (2002)
  • A Storm in Flanders: The Triumph and Tragedy on the Western Front (2002) ISBN 0871138425 OCLC 49285528
  • 1942: The Year that Tried Men's Souls (2004) ISBN 0871138891 OCLC 57342246
  • Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans (2006) ISBN 1400044367 OCLC 60671930
  • Vicksburg, 1863. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. April 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-27677-3. OCLC 236339246.
  • The Crimson Tide: The Official Illustrated History of Alabama Football, National Championship Edition (2010)
  • Kearny's March: The Epic Creation of the American West, 1846-1847 (2011) ISBN 0307270963 OCLC 701810360
  • Ronald Reagan: Our 40th President (2012)
  • Shiloh, 1862. National Geographic Society. 20 March 2012. ISBN 978-1-4262-0879-9. (2012), OCLC 774404320
  • The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight (2013) ISBN 1426211562
  • The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II (2015) ISBN 1426215495
  • The Allies: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the Unlikely Alliance That Won World War II (2018)
  • The Patriots: Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the Making of America (2020)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blount, Serena (September 17, 2020). "Winston Groom". Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  2. ^ "2009 College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame Inductees: Winston F. Groom, Jr". UA News. University of Alabama. September 23, 2009. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Groom, Winston 1943- |". Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  4. ^ Grimes, William (September 1, 1994). "Following the Star Of a Winsome Idiot". New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  5. ^ "1984 Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Winston Groom obituary". The Times. 19 September 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  7. ^ Why it took 'Forrest Gump' author nearly 20 years to write a new novel, Tom Vitale, MPR News
  8. ^ a b Kurutz, Steven (September 18, 2020). "Winston Groom, Author of 'Forrest Gump,' Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  9. ^ Thornton, William (2020-09-17). "'Forrest Gump' author Winston Groom dead at 77". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved 2020-09-20. died Thursday ... This post was corrected Sept. 18 to give the correct date of death.

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