H. William Hoffman, 86 Award Winning Author, Dies Sunday

Published 2:48 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

SEPTEMBER 15 – Henry William Hoffman, author, died in Farmville on Sunday, September 13, 2009. Son of Henry William Hoffman Sr. and Julia Beckley Hoffman, he was born in Charlestown, WV on May 16, 1925. He had resided in Charlotte Court House for 45 years.

Educated at Kentucky Military Institute, Hoffman served in the Army during World War II as a member of the Medical Corp. Two days after discharge, he enrolled at Hampden-Sydney College, receiving a BA degree in 1949. Post graduate work was done at Washington and Lee and the University of Iowa. After a brief career in banking and journalism, in 1952 he returned to Hampden-Sydney to teach English, leaving in 1959. He returned in the mid-sixties and served as writer-in-residence until the early '70's. An established author, he returned in 1978 to teach one course in creative writing.

His published fiction consists of 14 novels, four collections of short stories, and one play. There are dozens of uncollected stories in literary journals and magazines. A spiritual man, Hoffman wrote of relationships – with one's God, with one's fellowman, and with one's environment. Born into a family who owned a coal-mining industry, Hoffman became an agrarian at heart and much of his work concerned the land and man's care of it. He appreciated the gifts of nature, enjoying hunting, sailing, and horse-back riding. He was a member of the Farmington Hunt Club in Charlottesville.

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A reticent man, he reluctantly shared his talent at readings to local book groups, to college audiences, at the Library of Virginia, and the Festival of the Book. Among his awards as author are the Andrew Nelson Lytle Prize given by the Sewanee Review in 1989 which has published more of his work than of any other single author.

In 1990, Shenandoah awarded him the Jeanne Chaipiot Goodhurt Prize for Fiction. In 1993 he received the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature from Longwood College. He was awarded the Hillsdale Prize for Fiction by the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 1995 and selected to become a member of the prestigious group in 1996. He received the Dashiell Hammett Award for mystery writers after the publication of Tidewater Blood. Hoffman held honorary degrees from Hampden-Sydney, Washington and Lee, and the University of the South, Sewanee, TN.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Alice Sue Richardson Hoffman; daughters, Ruth Beckley Hoffman of Richmond, and Margaret Kay Huffman and husband, Neil; grandchildren, William Hunter, Andrew, and Kathleen Huffman, all of Greensboro, NC; and a sister, Janet Murphy of Concord, NC.

Hoffman was a member of Village Presbyterian Church where he served as both an elder and a deacon.

Visitation will be in the family home on Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m.

His memorial service will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Village Presbyterian Church.

Donations can be made to Village Presbyterian Church or to the English Department of Hampden-Sydney College.

Browning-Duffer Funeral Home, Keysville, is in charge of services.