William Howard Armstrong was born September 14, 1914, near Lexington, Virginia. He was raised on a farm in the lovely, history-steeped Shenandoah valley, and the descriptions of southern life in his most famous novel, Sounder, reflect his Christian upbringing in the rural South. The strong individuals that play major roles in Armstrong's fiction can be traced back to the history of his neighborhood; Stonewall Jackson, the famous steel-willed Confederate general killed in the Civil War, had taught Sunday school at the same church Armstrong attended as a boy. Military history was a part of Armstrong's childhood because several Civil War battles had been fought near his home.
His love of history was cemented at the Augusta Military Academy, a private military high school that he attended from 1928 to 1932. According to his family, Armstrong wrote his first story as a cadet at Augusta, but the story was so good that his teachers falsely accused him of plagiarism. Later, the story was published in the literary magazine at Hampden-Sydney College, where Armstrong edited both this magazine and the college newspaper. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney with honors in history in 1936 and also studied history at the University of Virginia.
Armstrong married Martha Stonestreet Williams in 1942. Three years later, he became a history teacher at Kent School, a private school in Kent, Connecticut. His wife died when his children were very young and Armstrong...
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