Born in Oxford, Mississippi, on July 9, 1951, to Knox and Leona (Barlow) Brown, William Larry Brown spent most of his life in that area. Brown was a Marine from 1970 until 1972 during the Vietnam conflict, but he remained stateside. On August 17, 1974, he married Mary Annie Coleman, and they had two sons, Billy Ray and Shane, and one daughter, LeAnne.
Brown did not attend college until 1982, when he took a class in creative writing at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) after years of writing convinced him that he still needed to find his voice. Author Ellen Douglas at Ole Miss more fully introduced him to the world of literature and simultaneously helped him forge that voice. In 1982, Brown’s first short story was published in Easyriders, a magazine for motorcyclists, but his short story “Facing the Music,” published in 1987 in The Mississippi Review, captured the attention of Algonquin Books editor Shannon Ravenel and won national acclaim.
From the time he left the Marines, Brown held a variety of jobs, from his first job with a stove company to his final and most significant job as a firefighter with the Oxford Fire Department, from which he retired as captain in 1990 in order to spend all his energy on his writing. Brown published his final novel The Rabbit Factory in 2003. He died at his home near Oxford, Mississippi on November 24, 2004.