John Williams was born in Clarksville, Texas on August 29, 1922. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1942 and spent two and a half years as a sergeant in India and Burma. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949 and a Master of Arts degree in 1950 from the University of Denver. During this time, his first two books were published: Nothing but the Night in 1948 and The Broken Landscape in 1949. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1954. He taught at the University of Denver from 1954 until his retirement in 1985. His other books include Butcher's Crossing, Stoner, and The Necessary Lie. His historical novel Augustus won the National Book Award for fiction in 1973. He also edited the anthology English Renaissance Poetry and was the founding editor of the Denver Quarterly. He died of respiratory failure on March 3, 1994.