Percy, Walker, 1916–90, American novelist, b. Birmingham, Ala. Trained as a physician, Percy turned to writing after he contracted tuberculosis and was forced to retire from practice. His novels The Moviegoer (1961) and The Last Gentleman (1966) concern Southern gentlemen who are feeling the impact of changing times. Love in the Ruins (1971) is a science fiction satire. His other novels are Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). His occasional writings were collected in the posthumous Signposts in a Strange Land (1991).
See biography by J. Tolson (1992); studies by L. W. Hobson (1988) and J. D. Crowley, ed. (1989).
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Percy, Walker(1916–90) writer; born in Birmingham, Ala. After the suicide of his father (1929) and death of his mother (1931), he and his brothers and sisters were adopted by their father's cousin, William Percy, who lived in Greenville, Miss. Walker studied at the University of North Carolina (B.A. 1937), and Columbia University (M.D. 1941). He worked as a pathologist in New York City, contracted tuberculosis, and spent three years in a sanatorium. He returned to Columbia to teach pathology (1944), suffered a relapse, and left medicine and New York City. He married (1946), converted to Catholicism (1947), and settled in Covington, La., to write. Starting with his first and best-known work, The Moviegoer (1961), he published several novels characterized by his conservative disillusionment with contemporary American life and values. A philosophic-intellectual man, he collected his essays on language in The Message in the Bottle (1975).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.