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Robert Stone
Stone at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Stone at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born Robert Anthony Stone
(1937-08-21)August 21, 1937
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died January 10, 2015(2015-01-10) (aged 77)
Key West, Florida, United States
Occupation Author, journalist
Literary movement Naturalism, Stream of consciousness
Notable works Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Outerbridge Reach
Notable awards National Book Award 1975

Robert Anthony Stone (August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015) was an American novelist. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and once for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Stone was five times a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, which he did receive in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers. Time magazine included this novel in its list TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Dog Soldiers was adapted into the film Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) starring Nick Nolte, from a script that Stone co-wrote.

During his lifetime Stone received material support and recognition including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Stone also offered his own support and recognition of writers during his lifetime, serving as Chairman of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation Board of Directors for over thirty years.

Stone's best known work is characterized by action-tinged adventures, political concerns and dark humor. Many of his novels are set in unusual, exotic landscapes of raging social turbulence, such as the Vietnam War; a post-coup violent banana republic in Central America; Jim Crow-era New Orleans, and Jerusalem on the verge of the millennium.


Stone was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a "family of Scottish Presbyterians and Irish Catholics who made their living as tugboat workers in New York harbor". Until the age of six he was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia; after she was institutionalized, he spent several years in a Catholic orphanage. In his short story "Absence of Mercy", which he has called autobiographical, the protagonist Mackay is placed at age five in an orphanage described as having had "the social dynamic of a coral reef".

..... He was expelled from a Marist high school during his senior year for "drinking too much beer and being 'militantly atheistic'". Soon afterwards, Stone joined the Navy for four years. At sea he traveled to many remote places, including Antarctica and Egypt.

Stone had many nautical experiences that would shape his creative imagination, some of these described in his memoir Prime Green, published in 2007. These first-hand experiences would at times turn violent: Stone witnessed the French Army bombing Port Said.

In the early 1960s, he briefly attended New York University; worked as a copy boy at the New York Daily News; married and moved to New Orleans; and held the Stegner Fellowship (1962-1963) at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he began writing a novel. Although he associated with the influential post-Beat Generation writer Ken Kesey and other Merry Pranksters, he was not a passenger on the famous 1964 bus trip to New York, contrary to some media reports. Living in New York at the time, he met the bus on its arrival and accompanied Kesey to an "after-bus party" whose attendees included a dyspeptic Jack Kerouac.

Although he never completed an academic degree, Stone taught in the creative writing programs at various university programs around the United States. He held a lectureship at the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars during the 1993–1994 academic year before moving to Yale University. He taught creative writing for the academic year 2006–2007 at Beloit College. For the 2010–2011 academic year, Stone held an endowed chair in the English department at Texas State University. He was also active in many of the writing seminars in and around Key West, Florida where he resided during the winter months. Stone was appointed an honorary director of the Key West Literary Seminar serving in that capacity during the final decade of his life.

At age 72, just after the publication of his second short-story collection Fun With Problems, Stone admitted (during a newspaper interview) that he suffered from severe emphysema: "It's my punishment for chain-smoking," he says. But with a wry laugh, he recalls his reaction to being told of the harm smoking could cause him in old age: "I'm not going to know I'm alive!".

According to his literary agent, Neil Olson, Stone died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on January 10, 2015, in Key West, where he and his wife had spent their winters for more than twenty years. He was 77. At the time of his death, Stone was survived by his wife (of 55 years) Janice and their two (adult-age) children, a daughter named Deirdre and a son called Ian.



  • 1967: A Hall of Mirrors
  • 1974: Dog Soldiers (novel) — winner of National Book Award
  • 1981: A Flag for Sunrisefinalist for Pulitizer prize; PEN/Faulkner Award finalist; twice a finalist for the National Book Award
  • 1986: Children of Light
  • 1992: Outerbridge Reach — finalist for the National Book Award
  • 1998: Damascus Gate — finalist for the National Book Award
  • 2003: Bay of Souls
  • 2013: Death of the Black-Haired Girl

Short Story Collections


  • 2007: Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties


  • 1970: WUSA (screenplay, based on A Hall of Mirrors)
  • 1978: Who'll Stop the Rain (screenplay, based on Dog Soldiers; co-author)


  • 2020: The Eye You See With: Selected Nonfiction (posthumously published; edited by Madison Smartt Bell)
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