American traveller and author. b 1939
"Call me Least Heat-Moon. My father calls himself Heat Moon, my elder brother Little Heat Moon. I, coming last, am therefore Least. It has been a long lesson of a name to learn." - from 'Blue Highways'
Born William Trogden in Kansas City, Missouri, of English-Irish-Osage ancestry. His father took the name 'Heat Moon', and William added the hyphen "after being called 'Mr Moon' one time too many". He studied journalism at the University of Missouri - Columbia, gaining his degree there, and a doctorate in English Literature. He later served in the United States Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain, but his great love was always writing.
To this end, he taught journalism, literature and creative writing at many colleges, including UMC. All this changed in February 1978 when he lost both his job (he was fired) and his wife (their eleven-year marriage failed). He took to the open road in a beaten-up van (named "Ghost Dancing", and decided to seek adventure and spiritual release through travelling round the United States. he knew that this was not something new, something which hadn't been done before, but it was for him, a presonal journey, and he made it a point of meeting real people by travelling the secondary highways (marked in blue on US maps), and avoiding the busy and impersonal interstate highways.
The results of this three months of journeying and his recording of it were the highly-acclaimed book Blue Highways, which was published in 1982. This book set him up in the public eye, and he continued to travel and write. His PrairyErth is a detailed look at Chase County, Kansas, and River-Horse was a second spirtitual journey through America, by boat.
He has been awarded the Mahan Award in Poetry and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from UMC. As well as his three major works being best-sellers, PrairyErth was selected by the American Library Association as the Best Work of Non-fiction for 1991. He has also received acclaim as one of America's most noted Native American writers. Inevitably, he has been compared with Robert Pirsig for the quality and depth of his writing, although his journeys are more personal and spiritual than philosophical.