William L. Harwood was born in Burlington, Vermont in 1946, and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
He completed his BA with Honors in American history at the University of North Dakota in 1968. In 1970, The Journal of South Dakota History published his thesis on the Ku Klux Klan in Grand Forks. He then served three years in the US Army as a Military Intelligence NCO and completed a year of Polish language training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
Harwood applied his knowledge of Polish to earn a doctorate in Polish and East European history at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He spent the academic year 1974-1975 conducting dissertation research at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He also passed the Foreign Service exam at the American Embassy in Warsaw.
In May 1977, he trained with the former US Information Agency in Washington DC as a Foreign Service Information Officer doing Press and Cultural work in the U.S. embassies. He served in U.S. Information Service centers in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, and Somalia. He retired in 1998.
Bill met his future wife, the former Marjorie Tomoe Yamamoto, in Washington training on South Asia. She served in Kabul Afghanistan, where she was the only woman present when Muslim extremists assassinated our Ambassador. They served together overseas and in Washington DC. She was a highly honored Family Nurse Practitioner with the State Department until her death from cancer in 1998. Friends at the Burlington Writers’ Workshop have given him invaluable advice on crafting his story of their 20-year marriage.
He next attended Wesley Theological Seminary, took creative writing courses, and studied voice, piano, and French horn, all in Washington DC. He taught three semesters in the Washington Semester program of American University.
His daughter Laura graduated from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, and now lives in Ojai, California, with her husband Ron, son Bodhi, and daughter Isabella.
In 2001, Bill married Elaine Hubert, formerly of the World Bank, and now lives in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont. He plays the piano and French horn and sings in choruses and in the choir of the College Street Congregational Church which he attended as a boy. He has served on the boards of his church and music groups and was President of the Burlington Rotary Club.