William Campbell Gault was born on March 9, 1910, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the second of three children of John Gault and Ella Hovde Gault. His father was a law school graduate but never practiced law, preferring to dabble in real estate. His mother sold cookware door-to-door and, with the family’s savings, later purchased and managed the Blatz Hotel in Milwaukee.
Gault grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, where he played some football in high school but reserved most of his enthusiasm for English studies. When he was eighteen, he was married to Julie Barry, and they later had a son, William Barry. In 1929, Gault briefly attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During the Depression, he worked as a sole cutter in a shoe factory before comanaging the Blatz Hotel with his mother.
Gault wrote short stories on the side and in 1936 won a fifty-dollar first prize in a short-story contest sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal and the McClure Syndicate. By 1939, he was supporting himself almost entirely from his writing. Eventually, he was divorced from his wife; he maintained custody of his son. In 1942, he married Virginia Kaprelian. The following year, he joined the army; he was assigned to the 166th Infantry and throughout most of his duty was stationed in Hawaii. After his discharge in 1945, Gault toured the West Coast and became enamored of Southern California. Having resumed his writing career, he moved his family...
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