Winston Groom was the author more than twelve books, including A Storm in Flanders, Forrest Gump, Better Times Than These, As Summers Die, and the prizewinning Civil War history Shrouds of Glory. His book Conversations with the Enemy was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
“If you see a line, go stand in it, probably can’t hurt nothing” is a sample of the pithy wisdom Groom had Forrest Gump speak.
Winston Groom took the publishing world by storm when his 1986 novel Forrest Gump flew to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 21 weeks. It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the United States alone on the heels of its blockbuster movie adaptation starring Tom Hanks. The book has also been reprinted in at least thirteen countries.
Born in 1943, Groom grew up in Mobile, Alabama. In 1965 he graduated from the University of Alabama and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He served in Vietnam with the Fourth Infantry Division from July 1966 to September 1967 when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. He then spent the next eight years working as a reporter and columnist for the Washington Star before becoming a full-time author. He holds several honorary Ph.D. degrees as a Doctor of Humane Letters.
In addition to Forrest Gump and Gump & Co., Groom’s novels include Better Times Than These, the award-winning As Summers Die (which was made into a movie starring Bette Davis), Gone the Sun, and Only. He is also the co-author of Conversations with the Enemy, a non-fiction account of the experience of an American prisoner of war in Vietnam, brilliantly rendered and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His novel, Such a Pretty, Pretty Girl, was published by Random House in the spring of 1999. He has also written The Crimson Tide, a pictorial history of football at the University of Alabama published by the University of Alabama Press in the fall of 2000. In 2016, after a long break from publishing fiction, he released his final novel, El Paso, set in 1916.
As well as being a talented novelist, Groom is also a serious student of history. One of his books, the prize-winning Shrouds of Glory, published by Grove Atlantic, is a meticulous, atmospheric history of the little known, but very dramatic, Western Campaign of the Civil War, inspired by tales of his great-grandfather who fought for the Confederate Army.
Groom also wrote for numerous magazines, including Vanity Fair, Southern Living, Condé Nast Traveler, Newsweek, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, and contributed editorial articles to the New York Times and the Washington Post.
He became a frequent lecturer — both as the author of Forest Gump and as a respected student of history, and familiar face on television, appearing regularly on network morning talk shows, as well as PBS’s Frontline and CBS’s Sunday Morning.
He also appeared as an actor in the Warner Brothers screen adaptation of Willie Morris’s novel, My Dog Skip.
Groom never forgot the public’s warm response to his lovable, unlikely hero, Forrest Gump, often agreeing with the character’s dictum to “always be able to look back and say, ‘At least, I didn’t lead no humdrum life.’”
When Winston Groom passed away in 2020 at the age of 77, Alabama governor Kay Ivey mourned him as “one of our most gifted writers.” Alabama University called him “one of our legends.”