William Goldman

Early Life

William Goldman is a great American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. He was born on the 12th of August, in 1931, in Chicago. His parents were Maurice Clarence Goldman and Marion. His father, initially, was a successful businessman. However, his alcoholism destroyed his business that led to his suicide. His mother was deaf, which added challenges to family problems. William led a turbulent childhood but all these obstacles did not hinder his creative abilities.


William started his educational journey at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he got a chance to become an editor of the school’s Oberlin’s literary magazine. He graduated in 1952 and went on to attend Columbia University to complete his master’s degree in English. Leaving his university in 1956, he came up with his first novel, The Temple of Gold, which introduced him as a professional writer.


William Goldman inspired the world with his writing and secured various awards and honors on account of his creative abilities. He won two academy awards; one for Best Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the other for an adapted screenplay of All the President’s Men. Also, he won two Edgar awards; one for his best motion picture, Harper, released in 1967 and the second for Magic. Besides these honors, he also received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting in 1985.

Personal Life and Death

William Goldman tied the knot to Ilene Jones in 1961 but the couple failed to develop a long-lasting relationship and parted ways in 1991. However, they had two daughters, Susanna and Jenny.

This literary genius led an exemplary life and provided us a treasure of literary works. Sadly, William developed colon cancer and pneumonia in his later years. The legendary figure breathed his last on 16th of November, in 2018.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. William Goldman was highly inspired by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, Irwin Shaw, Somerset Maugham, Anton Chekhov, and Miguel de Cervantes.
  2. He was a die-hard fan of the American football team, the New York Knicks.
  3. After the publication of his novel, Boys and Girls Together, he was recruited as a Hollywood screenwriter.
  4. He wrote three films that the National Library of Congress selected for the National Film Registry as artistically, historically, and culturally significant.

Some Important Works of William Goldman

  • Best Novels: His best novels include; The Temple of Gold, Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow, Boys and Girls Together, The Princess Bride, No Way to Treat a Lady, and Father’s Day.
  • Screenplays and Other Works: Some other works include, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hot Rock, Marathon Man, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, The General’s Daughter, “Something Blue” and “The Ice Cream Eat.”

His Career

William Goldman always wanted to pursue writing as a career. He wrote various short stories during his stay at Colombia University and struggled to get them published. Upon completing his formal education, he won an offer of a teaching position at a high school but he refused and decided to devote himself to writing. Soon he came up with a well-received first attempt, The Temple of God. The book launched his writing career and paved the way for his success. Later, his brother, James Goldman, joined hands with him and both co-wrote Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole and a poorly received musical, A Family Affair. His brother left, yet he continued alone. He produced two most popular novels, The Princess Bride, a romantic adventure comedy, and Marathon Man, a thriller. Aside from his engaging novels and short stories, he tried his hands on screenplays and earned huge fame. He also produced noteworthy nonfictional works that include The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, Hype, and Glory, The Big Picture, and Other Essays.

His Style

William possessed a remarkable ability to incorporate aspects of fantasy and reality in his works. Using Satire and narration as his central literary features, his novel, The Princess Bride, won accolades from his readers. One of the most prominent aspects of his writing is that he never tries to create false mystery or cheap surprise in his works. Rather, he prefers taking his characters to the farthest depth of the conflict and tries to keep them imaginable within the text’s domain of probability. Keeping the audience’s interest in mind, he avoided adding complexities and unnecessary twists into his scripts. The recurring thematic strand in most of his writings stands to love, loyalty, cultural norms, history, and violence.

William Goldman’s Impacts on Future Literature

William mesmerized the world with his creative abilities and continues to doing so through the treasure he has left. His efforts to display aesthetic values, cultural norms, and historic wonders have won a huge majority of readers. Notable figures of literature and arts love his style and writings. For instance, Alan Horn, the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, remarks that his tales touch millions of hearts and will endure as pinnacles of the art form. Edgar Wright, a great director, and screenwriter considers him the legendary adventurer in screenwriting. In fact, he has tried to present his best in his writings so skillfully that even today writers tend to follow his footprints in writing.

Famous Quotes

  1. I am your Prince and you will marry me,” Humperdinck said.
    Buttercup whispered, “I am your servant and I refuse.”
    “I am you Prince and you cannot refuse.”
    “I am your loyal servant and I just did.”
    “Refusal means death.”
    “Kill me then.” (The Princess Bride)
  1. “You seem a decent fellow,” Inigo said. “I hate to kill you.”
    You seem a decent fellow,” answered the man in black. “I hate to die.” (The Princess Bride)
  1. “I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said ‘Farm Boy do this’ you thought I was answering ‘As you wish’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.” (The Princess Bride)

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