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Home:  >Browse Listings   >Authors   >Percy, William Alexander
William Alexander Percy
William Alexander Percy

William Alexander Percy

A Mississippi Delta planter, lawyer, poet, man of letters, and gentleman from Greenville, William Alexander Percy is best known for his autobiography, Lanterns on the Levee, a book revealing not only the man but also the region, the times in which he lived, and the culture that shaped him. Though he considered himself primarily a poet, his autobiography is today considered his major work. Spanning the years of his life — from his birth on May 14, 1885, to the book's publication in 1941 — Lanterns on the Levee looks upon the drastic social changes of that period with a sense of foreboding, upholding agrarian sensibility and the values of kindness, moral integrity, and friendship instead of what Percy perceived as the prevailing trends of declining moral values and technological progress. He served as guardian to his cousin Walker Percy after the death of Walker's parents. He died on January 21, 1942.



  • Sappho in Levkas, and Other Poems. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915
  • In April Once, and Other Poems. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920
  • Enzio's Kingdom, and Other Poems. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924
  • Selected Poems. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930
  • Collected Poems. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1943

  • Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1941


  • Andrews, William L. "In Search of a Common Identity: The Self and the South in Four Mississippi Autobiographies." Southern Review 24.1 (Winter 1988): 47-64.
  • Castille, Philip. "East toward Home: Will Percy's Old World Vision." Southern Literature in Transition: Heritage and Promise. Eds. Philip Castille and William Osborne, introd. by C. Hugh Holman. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1983. 101-09.
  • Cox, James M. "Trial for a Southern Life." Sewanee Review 97.2 (Spring 1989): 238-52.
  • Dupuy, Edward J. "The Dispossessed Garden of William Alexander Percy." Southern Quarterly 29.2 (Winter 1991): 31-41.
  • Gretlund, Jan N. "Southern Stoicism and Christianity: From William Alexander Percy to Walker Percy." The United States South: Regionalism and Identity. Eds. Valeria Lerda, Tjebbe Westendorp, and Geo. Pistarino. Rome: Bulzoni, 1991. 145-56.
  • Gulledge, Jo. "William Alexander Percy and the Fugitives." Introd. by Walker Percy. Southern Review 21.2 (April 1985): 415-27.
  • Holdsworth, Carolyn. "The Gorgon's Head and the Mirror: Fact versus Metaphor in Lanterns on the Levee." Southern Literary Journal 14.1 (Fall 1981): 36-45.
  • Holmes, William F. "William Alexander Percy and the Bourbon Era in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta." Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Culture 26 (1973): 71-87.
  • Lawson, Lewis A. "William Alexander Percy, Walker Percy, and the Apocalypse." Modern Age: A Quarterly Review 24 (1980): 396-406.
  • Rocks, James E. "The Art of Lanterns on the Levee." Southern Review 12 (1976): 814-23.

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