Edmund Valentine White III (13 January 1940 - )
White, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Chicago, was the son of a businessman and a child psychologist whose names he has ordinarily omitted, although he was named after his father.
He has claimed that his family had incestuous feelings, that his mother was attracted to him and "I think with my father he was somebody who every eye in the family was focused on and he was a sort of a tyrant and nice-looking, the source of all power, money, happiness, and he was implacable and difficult. He was always spoken of in sexual terms, in the sense he left our mother for a much younger woman who was very sexy but had nothing else going for her. He was a famous womanizer. And he slept with my sister!"
He attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, then studied Chinese at the University of Michigan. He taught at Johns Hopkins University (1977-1979), Columbia School of the Arts (1980-1982), Brown University 1990-1992), and Princeton University 1998 to date. He worked at Time-Life Books (1962-1970) and was Senior Editor of The Saturday Review (1972-1973). In 1983 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and lived in France from 1983 to 1990.
- Forgetting Elena (1973)
- Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978)
- A Boy's Own Story (1982)
- Caracole (1985)
- The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988)
- Skinned Alive: Stories (1995)
- The Farewell Symphony (1997)
- The Married Man (2000)
- Fanny: A Fiction (2003)
- Chaos: A Novella and Stories (2007)
- Hotel de Dream (2007) Review from The New York Times
- Jack Holmes and His Friend (2012)
- In Kate Christensen's New York Times review (29 January 2012), she quotes a sample: "When Jack finally sees Will’s penis (because Will is terrified he has the clap), he assesses it in diction reminiscent of James Joyce describing Dublin or Joyce Cary describing London: 'Nice shape. Looks like the circumcision was botched, with that extra dewlap of flesh hanging down on one side. Milk white skin with that ropy blue vein rushing down the shaft. Neither big nor little. Just big enough to satisfy anyone. Long straight hairs disguising its full size; it looks like one of those mad medieval Japanese heroines in the movies with their pale faces drowned in hair pushed forward.' ”
- Terre Haute (2006)
- The Joy of Gay Sex, with Charles Silverstein (1977)
- States of Desire (1980)
- The Burning Library: Writings on Art, Politics and Sexuality 1969-1993 (1994)
- The Flâneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris (2000)
- Arts and Letters (2004)
- Genet: A Biography (1993)
- Marcel Proust (1998)
- Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel (2008)
- Our Paris: Sketches from Memory (1995)
- My Lives (2005)
- City Boy (2009)
A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony, are autobiographical-fictional and tell the stages of a gay man from boyhood to middle age.
White was one of the seven gay male writers in 1980 and 1981 who formed The Violent Quill and read their works to each other for critical evaluations. Of the seven – White, Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, Robert Ferro, George Whitmore, Michael Grumley, and Christopher Cox – AIDS has claimed the lives of the four last named, leaving only two others besides White.
In the 1960s he lived in New York City's Greenwich Village on MacDougal Street, an area known for being a major gay area.
White, who was a founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis, was diagnosed as being HIV+ in 1985.