Thursday, July 02, 2020

Charles Webb, Author of "The Graduate," Dead at 81

Charles Webb wrote one of the defining books of my generation, The Graduate. I suspect that most people today do not even recognize the name Charles Webb, and that they would be surprised to hear that Webb preferred it that way. But most people, even if they are not familiar with Webb's novel, do know the 1967 movie starring a very young Dustin Hoffman and Ann Bancroft as the older woman who seduces him. The movie was aimed at the rebellious and anti-materialistic high school and college students of the day, and it is still an icon of the 1960s.

Charles Webb
Something else that will surprise most people is that Webb, who originally billed the novel as "based on a true story," didn't just talk the talk. He walked the walk in a big, big way, and at the time of his death he was living in poverty in England, having given away every dime he ever made from any of his books or the movies based on them. 

All Webb's son, John, said about the author's death on June 16 is that he died "in hospital," but other sources indicate that he died from a blood disorder. Webb, a San Francisco native, and his wife (who died in 2019) lived near Brighton, England. 

In addition to 1963's The Graduate, Webb is the author of several other books (some of them having been written specifically to pay of debts he had incurred):

Love, Roger (1969)
The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1970)
Orphans and Other Children (1973)
The Abolitionist of Clark Gable Place (1976)
Elsinor (1977)
Booze (1979)
New Cardiff (2002)
Home School (2007)


  1. Loved, loved, loved the movie. Writers are weird ...

    1. Many of our writers have been recluses in the past, but few of them have cared less about what their books earned than Webb, that's for sure.

  2. The real star of the movie in my car-crazy teenager's eyes was Benjamin's Alfa!

    1. I tend to agree with you, Bill. Definitely an eye-catcher.

  3. So many authors dying this year. What's up with that?

    1. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? And a whole bunch of my favorites from the past are now in their 80s and up...doesn't bode well for the next few years.