William Lewis Trogdon Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Born William Lewis Trogdon, William Least Heat-Moon gained fame under his American Indian name. His father, Ralph G. Trogdon, practiced law, and his mother, Maurine Davis Trogdon, was a housewife when Heat-Moon was born in 1939. Heat-Moon studied literature at the University of Missouri, receiving a master’s degree in 1962. From 1963 to 1965, he served in the United States Navy, stationed aboard the USS Champlain. From 1965 to 1968, he taught English at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and reentered the University of Missouri, earning a Ph.D. in 1973 and a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism in 1978.{$S[A]Trogden, William Lewis;Heat-Moon, William Least}

In 1978, after separating from his wife and being laid off from his teaching job, Heat-Moon embarked upon an adventure that resulted in his best-selling, highly acclaimed first book, Blue Highways. It all began when Heat-Moon piled many of his most-valued possessions into a 1975 van, which he named “Ghost Dancing,” and set out to visit small towns with curious names. Living in his van, he spent the next three months driving thirteen thousand miles, circling much of the United States in a counterclockwise route. Heat-Moon interviewed the colorful characters he found along the roadside or in the small-town cafes and grocery stores. Heat-Moon did not start the journey with the idea of writing a book. He admits that the trip was really a way of escaping, or running away from his problems, something he later called a “very childish thing to do.” He did hope to find subjects that would make good short stories or journalistic features. By the end of the first month, however, he recognized that his experiences were more than short stories, and he began to plan a book.

Returning to Columbia after his travels, he began writing Blue Highways, choosing the title from the blue lines that connect small towns on the road maps. Published in 1982, the book sold millions of copies in a very short time, staying on the best-seller list for more than a year. It won numerous awards and honors and put Heat-Moon on a short list of prestigious contemporary writers who...

(The entire section is 884 words.)