Albany, New York
55 at time of award
Published February 1, 1983

About William's Work

William Kennedy is a novelist whose native city, Albany, New York, is a rich, fictional source for his imaginative stories taking place from colonial times to the present.

Kennedy’s novels include Legs (1975), Ironweed (1983; screenplay, 1987), Quinn’s Book (1988), Very Old Bones (1992), The Flaming Corsage (1996), and Roscoe (2002).  Journalism plays an important role in many of Kennedy’s books, with newspapermen in narrating or supporting roles.  He is the author of O Albany! (1983), an impressionistic history of his city; Riding the Yellow Trolley Car (1993), a collection of essays and journalism; and the screenplay for the Cotton Club (1986).  He co-authored two children’s books with his son, Brendan: Charlie Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine (1986) and Charlie Malarkey and the Singing Moose (1994).


Kennedy was a journalist writing for the Albany Times-Union, the Miami Herald, and the San Juan Star, among other papers (1949-1970) before becoming book editor of Look magazine (1971).  He taught creative writing and journalism as an instructor (1974-1982) at the State University of New York, Albany, where he has been a professor in the English Department since 1983.   Kennedy is the founder (1983) and executive director of the New York State Writers Institute.

Kennedy received a B.A. (1949) from Siena College.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of William Kennedy
February 24, 2012
"William Kennedy: A Life in Writing"
The Guardian
William Kennedy , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
September 26, 2011
"Novel A Perfect Blend in Time"
Times Union
William Kennedy , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
More Fellows

View All 1983 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.