John Alexander Graves III was born in Fort Worth, Texas on August 6, 1920. He attended what is now Rice University. In 1942, he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific. He was wounded by a Japanese grenade in Saipan, which left him blind in one eye. He taught English at the University of Texas at Austin for three years. He received a master's degree in English at Columbia University. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including Goodbye to a River, Hard Scrabble, and From a Limestone Ledge. He died on July 31, 2013 at the age of 92.