Lie Down in Darkness (novel)

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Lie Down in Darkness


First edition
Author William Styron
Original titleAn Inheritance of Night
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Bobbs-Merrill
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 410 pp

Lie Down in Darkness is a novel by American novelist William Styron published in 1951. It was his first novel, written when he was 26 years old, and received a great deal of critical acclaim.

William Styron American novelist and essayist

William Clark Styron Jr. was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work.


After graduating from Duke University in 1947, Styron took an editing position with McGraw-Hill in New York City. After provoking his employers into firing him, he set about writing his first novel in earnest. Three years later, he published the novel, Lie Down in Darkness. Styron had first written the book under the working title Inheritance of Night; he made two revisions of the draft before publishing it under its eventual title. [1]

Duke University private university in Durham, North Carolina, United States

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.

Among the honors bestowed on Lie Down in Darkness was the prestigious Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. [2] Styron was unable to immediately accept the award because he was recalled into the military during the Korean War.

American Academy in Rome Research center , Arts institution in New York City, United States

The American Academy in Rome is a research and arts institution located on the Gianicolo in Rome. The academy is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.

American Academy of Arts and Letters honor society

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The novel is about the dysfunctional Virginian Loftis family. It centers on the funeral of Peyton Loftis, one of the daughters, with previous events told in flashbacks by the other characters. The young, psychologically vulnerable Peyton is attached to her father, but finds her mother, Helen, emotionally remote and oppressive. Helen loathes the spoiled and beautiful Peyton, whom she characterizes as a whore. She has given all her love to her crippled daughter, Maudie, leaving no affection for Peyton or her own husband, Milton, who finds solace in a shallow mistress. Milton, who adores Peyton, turns to alcohol as he is spurned by Helen and as Peyton slips away from the family circle. Peyton's marriage is a disaster, also, and she eventually commits suicide. The penultimate section of the story is related in a stream of consciousness style by Peyton herself. In the last part, a recreation of a revivalist meeting, it is suggested that only the Loftis family's black servants may experience genuine mourning for Peyton.

Styron incorporated many actual portions of his home town, the Hilton Village section of Newport News, Virginia. The character of Helen contains some elements of Styron's own stepmother. Part of the story occurs at the James River Country Club, which is still in operation today.

Hilton Village human settlement in Newport News, Virginia, United States of America

Hilton Village is a planned, English-village-style neighborhood in Newport News, Virginia. Recognized as a pioneering development in urban planning, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood was built between 1918 and 1921 in response to the need for housing during World War I for employees of Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company. It is recognized as the United States' first Federal war-housing project.

Newport News, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Newport News is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 180,719. In 2013, the population was estimated to be 183,412, making it the fifth-most populous city in Virginia.

Film adaptation

In August 2012, Scott Cooper was announced as the director of the film adaptation. Word got out that Kristen Stewart was cast in the lead role of Peyton. However regarding casting, the film's production company released the following statement: "While it's exciting to see all the interest the project is generating, the film is still in the pre-production process and no offers to cast have been made as of yet." [3]

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Scott Cooper is an American director, screenwriter, producer and actor. He is known for writing and directing Crazy Heart (2009), Out of the Furnace (2013), Black Mass (2015) and Hostiles (2017).

Kristen Stewart American actress

Kristen Jaymes Stewart is an American actress, model and director. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a César Award, making her the first American woman to win it. Her films have grossed over $4.3 billion worldwide, and she was the highest-paid actress in the world in 2010 and 2012.

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  1. Styron, William (1993). Inheritance of Night: Early Drafts of Lie Down in Darkness. Duke University Press.
  2. Allen, Bennett (March 8, 2011). "William Styron Reads from Lie Down in Darkness". Vantiy Fair. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  3. Chaney, Jen (3 August 2012). "Kristen Stewart not yet cast in 'Lie Down in Darkness'". Washington Post. Retrieved 3 August 2012.