Winston Francis Groom Jr. was born on March 23, 1943, in Washington DC. His father worked at the Pentagon and his mother worked as an English teacher. In school, he planned on becoming a lawyer like his father.
He went on to the University of Alabama, where he ended up pursuing writing. After graduating from college, Groom enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam during the war. Afterward, he moved to New York and befriended Willie Morris and Joseph Heller.
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Groom’s first novel, Better Times Than These, was published in 1978 to acclaim, especially from Vietnam War veterans. In 1983, his book Conversations with the Enemy was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He moved back to Mobile in 1985.
In 1986, Groom penned the book Forrest Gump, which went on to sell over 1 million copies and become an award-winning film starring Tom Hanks. It pulled from the places of rural Alabama that he knew and loved. The success of it led to a sequel book.
He continued to write, but took 20 years off from publishing until his book El Paso in 2016. In 2020, he died in his sleep at age 77. Groom was remembered with an obituary in the New York Times. He had been working on a book about the founding fathers. He is buried in Mobile.
Winston Groom Landmarks in the South
Winston Groom spent his early years in Washington DC before moving to Alabama. After returning from Vietnam, he returned to the nation’s capital and went on to work for a now-defunct newspaper for over a decade.
Winston Groom is best associated with Mobile, Alabama, the coastal city dating back over 300 years. He attended University Military School and returned to live here while working on Forrest Gump. He is also buried in Mobile at Pine Crest Cemetery. Others interred here are professional athletes like Tommy Lee Agee and a number of noted politicians.
Winston Groom attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. During his time there, he worked on the literary magazine, when he gained an interest in writing, and was a part of ROTC. He graduated with honors in 1965. Fellow alumni of the university include Harper Lee.
During his later years, Groom lived in Point Clear, an area near Fairhope. He is honored with a marker on the town’s walk of fame, not far from the bookstore that sells his titles.