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Gresham, William Lindsay, 1909-1962.



  • Existence: 1909-1962

Biographical Statement

William Wilkins (“Lindsay”) Gresham was born in Baltimore, Maryland on August 20, 1909 to Henry H. and Aline Lindsay Gresham. The oldest of two boys, Bill had one younger brother named Henry, who was called “Lindsay” and later “Hank” by family and friends. The Gresham family moved to New York City in 1917, and Bill graduated from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn in 1926. He attended college for two semesters (1929- 1930) at Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey, and performed as a cowboy- and mountain ballad-singer in 1932-1933 before becoming a professional writer in 1936.

In October 1937 Gresham volunteered as an artillery observer and first-aid man with the 35th Anglo-American Battery of the Spanish Lincoln Brigade. He was honorably discharged and returned to America where he was treated for a slight tuberculosis lesion, causing him to spend a year in recovery. In 1941 he began magazine work as an editor, later expanding to the roles of reporter, caption writer, and feature writer for true crime magazines (Fawcett Publications), Click magazine, and Theater Arts Monthly. His first novel, Nightmare Alley was published in 1946 and was made into a motion picture by 20th Century Fox the following year. During 1953 he served as a press agent for George A. Hamid & Son.

Gresham married his second wife, Joy Davidman, in 1942 and the couple had two sons: David and Douglas. They divorced in 1954, and Bill moved to Miami, Florida where he married Joy’s cousin, Renée Rodriguez. Joy Davidman later became the wife of C.S. William Lindsay Gresham Papers, page 2 Lewis in April 1956. Bill and Renée relocated to New Rochelle, New York with Renee’s two children in 1956.

Bill continued writing feature magazine articles and published several books, including: Limbo Tower (1949), Monster Midway (1954), Houdini: The Man who Walked through Walls (1959), and The Book of Strength (1961). In later years Gresham became actively involved with Alcoholics Anonymous, and suffered from deteriorating eyesight due to cataracts. He committed suicide on September 14, 1962 after being diagnosed with cancer.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

William Lindsay Gresham Correspondence

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-51a

This archive contains correspondence to and from William (Bill) Lindsay Gresham. Others involved include C.S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, and Douglas and David Gresham. Also included is correspondence to Marj Mead from Lyle Dorsett concerning the acquisition of the Gresham letters.

Dates: Created: 1940-1982; Other: Majority of material found in 1950-1960

William Lindsay Gresham Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-86 through A-91

This archive contains the personal papers of William Lindsay Gresham including: correspondence, and many of the works and research materials from his writing career.

Dates: Created: 1913-2009; Other: Majority of material found in 1940-1962