William Kennedy was born in 1928 in Albany, New York, where he was raised. He graduated from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, and after stints in the army and as a reporter in Puerto Rico, returned to Albany for good in 1963. The majority of his novels comprise what is referred to as The Albany Cycle, a reimagining of the life of the city that makes use of real incidents in Albany's history as well as supernatural elements. Ironweed, the most celebrated of these novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Kennedy's first novel, The Ink Truck, was published in 1969, and is the story of a newspaper strike in an unnamed Albany. His second novel, Legs, is the first of the Albany Cycle novels, the second of which, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, introduces the Phelan family, various generations of which appear in five more novels: Ironweed, Quinn's Book (1988), Very Old Bones (1992), The Flaming Corsage (1996), and Roscoe (1992)...Show More »
Kennedy is also the author of several works of nonfiction, including O Albany! (1983), derived from a series of articles he wrote about the city that earned a Pulitzer nomination. He has also written two plays, two screenplays, and two books for children.
Kennedy taught creative writing and journalism at the University of Albany from 1974 to 1982, and is currently a professor in the English department. In 1993, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.