Born in Oxford, England, in May 1944, William was raised on the East Kent coast, mostly in Deal, the setting for his memoir The Boy with No Shoes. His parents were academics and it was an intellectually exciting, creative and liberal household. But as a home for small boy it was difficult and abusive, as his memoir shows. But not quite a total disaster, fortunately. Survival and then healing happens. Just. Six decades later, from the safe distant of retrospect and as a novelist, William wouldn’t have missed it, or living near the sea, for the world!
At ten William was sent to school in Germany; at eleven he went to Grammar School; at fourteen, inspired by reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, he decided to become a writer and never wavered from that goal. At eighteen, after a nine month tramp around the British Isles camping wild, he took up his place at Bristol University to read Geography.
A lot of jobs followed: fund-raising for the student charity World University Service; teaching; selling recruitment advertising; writing for trade magazines and finally working for the London Daily Mail as editor of Money Mail and then Femail. He resigned from the paper in 1978 aged 34 to write his first novel.
Duncton Wood, an anthropomorphic saga with moles as the protagonists, was an instant bestseller. Twenty more novels have followed including five Dunctons, four critically acclaimed sequels to The Wind in the Willows, books about eagles and wolves have followed, as well as Skallagrigg and his memoir.
William is a Council Member of the Society of Authors. Other than writing and spending time with his close-knit family, his passions are hill-walking, art history, film and travel.