William Haywood Henderson grew up in Colorado and Wyoming. He received a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in English (Creative Writing) from Brown University. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University. He currently lives in Denver.
Henderson’s first novel, Native, was written while he attended Brown and Stanford, and he credits his mentors John Hawkes, Robert Coover, and Gilbert Sorrentino with helping him zero in on his particular strength, writing about the American West. Since Native, Henderson has published two more acclaimed novels that explore the relationship of man (a small figure) and the landscape (human, political, dangerous, immense). Author Diane Smith said, "William Haywood Henderson understands the emotional landscape of the American West, defined by loss, hope, and life on the wing." And about Augusta Locke, Publishers Weekly said, "Against the enormous beauty of the American West depicted in Henderson’s third novel, people cast small but significant shadows while tending to families as fragile as fallen leaves. … Saturated with details of the natural West, Henderson’s work etches in high relief the image of a solitary life among scenic riches."
Henderson has taught creative writing at Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Colorado at Denver, and the University of Denver. He has also taught at a variety of writers conferences, including the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, the Montana Festival of the Book, Ghost Ranch, and the Flathead River Writers Conference.
Since 2001 Henderson has taught creative writing at the non-profit writing center Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. At Lighthouse, he developed and currently directs the Book Project, an intensive, two-year program for writers of book-length works, from novels to memoirs to story collections.
Henderson also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Ashland University.
"William Haywood Henderson has an awe-inspiring ability to cut to the heart of what works and what doesn’t in a manuscript, a way of looking at writing and storytelling that is encouraging and thought-provoking."
— Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters
"Not only is William Haywood Henderson a masterful writer himself, but he also has that special ability to see the true potential in his students’ manuscripts, beyond what they thought possible. Under Bill’s tutelage, so many writers have gone on to publish their books that we’ve kind of lost track, but he’s the first to celebrate with them every time."
— Andrea Dupree, founder of Lighthouse Writers Workshop
"Bill has an uncanny ability to mentor writers of all levels. He identifies strengths to exploit, weaknesses to correct, and hidden meaning to unfold. He guides with kindness and humility. Bill cares deeply about good writing and without ego celebrates the success of writers he mentors."
— Gary Schanbacher, author of the award-winning Migration Patterns and Crossing Purgatory