May 16, 1925: Author Henry William Hoffman Born in Charleston

May 16, 2017

Author Henry William Hoffman was born in Charleston on May 16, 1925. After his father left the family in the early 1930s, William and his only sibling, Janet, were raised primarily by a domineering but much loved grandmother. A staunch Presbyterian, Hoffman’s fiction was influenced by his religious upbringing and his studies at Hampden-Sydney College.

Henry William Hoffman
Credit E-WV / West Virginia Humanities Council

His first novel, The Trumpet Unblown, published in 1955, was based on Hoffman’s experiences as a World War II medic. Two other novels, Days in the Yellow Leaf and Yancey’s War, also dramatized the effects of war. Many of his works brought out Christian themes of spiritual quest after disillusionment, reconciliation, and ultimate redemption. These include A Place For My Head, The Dark Mountains, A Walk to the River, and Godfires. Hoffman was also influenced by his love of the land and sea, horses, and hunting.

Four volumes of his short stories earned him the O. Henry Award and inclusion in Best American Short Stories. Among Hoffman’s later novels was Tidewater Blood, which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize. Henry William Hoffman died in 2009 at age 84.