William Styron

James L.W. West

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


William Styron was deeply rooted in Virginia. The Styrons in North America trace their lineage to two brothers, John Stireing and George Styring, who left the island of Barbados and settled in Princess Anne County, in the colony of Virginia, in the early 1700s. It is from George, the younger of the brothers, that the author is descended. George Styring relocated to the Outer Banks of North Carolina around 1720, and his children remained in coastal North Carolina after his death in 1745. Over the next one hundred years, they established the family there, on both the barrier islands and the mainland. (During these years the spelling of the surname was regularized to “Styron.”) William Styron’s paternal grandfather, Alpheus W. Styron, was born in 1848 on Portsmouth Island, at the entrance to the Pamlico Sound. After service in the Civil War as a courier for General Robert F. Hoke, Alpheus became a pioneer steamboat operator in the eastern part of the state. Styron’s grandmother, Marianna Clark, was born in 1851 into a prominent family of planters and slaveholders in Hyde County, North Carolina. She and Alpheus married in 1875 and settled in Washington, a picturesque town on the Pamlico River. Their fifth child, William Clark Styron, was born in Washington in 1889. He would become the author’s father. After graduating from college with a degree in engineering and working for nine months on a transatlantic freighter, William C. Styron headed to Virginia in 1911 to take a job as a mechanical draftsman at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia. There, in 1918 he met Pauline Abraham of Uniontown, Pennsylvania; they married in 1921. Although some of Pauline's immediate ancestors had fought for the Union in the Civil War, she was descended from Scotch- Irish ancestors who had originally settled in the Valley of Virginia. Through these relatives she could claim kinship to General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, a connection she enjoyed revealing to her Southern friends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA History of Virginia Literature
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781107415164
ISBN (Print)9781107057777
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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