Author on history and philosophy

Wiliam James Durant was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, on November 5, 1885. He was attended Columbia University in New York. After a brief stint as a reporter, he became a secondary school teacher. He studied briefly to become a Roman Catholic priest, but then returned to teaching.

While teaching at the Ferrer Modern School in New York, he met and fell in love with one of his pupils, Ada Kaufman. The couple married in 1913, and Will began teaching biology and philosophy at Columbia. He received a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia in 1917.

In 1926, Durant published The Story of Philosophy, which sold over 2,000,000 copies in its first decade. The income from the book allowed him to quit teaching and start work on a comprehensive history of Western civilization. He and Ariel travelled extensively as part of their research, touring Europe several times and going around the world twice.

From 1935 to 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published eleven volumes of The Story of Civilization. Will took sole credit for the first six volumes. As Ariel's contribution increased, she shared credit for the work, and the last five volumes bear both Durants' names.

Will Durant died in Los Angeles, California on November 17, 1981, at the age of 96. Ariel had passed away twelve days before.

biographical notes from The Story of Civilization
Encyclopedia Britannica online

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