Forrest Gump was the best-known novel by the author who wrote a total of 16 books

By Georgia Slater
September 18, 2020 11:38 AM
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Andrew Wardlow /News Herald via AP

Winston Groom, the writer whose book Forrest Gump inspired the Oscar-winning film of the same name, has died. He was 77.

Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama confirmed the news on social media Thursday, sharing that Groom had died in the southern Alabama town.

"It is with great sadness that I share the passing of our dear friend Winston Groom. The City of Fairhope has lost an iconic author today. Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers," Wilson wrote alongside a smiling photo of the author.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also shared a statement on Twitter, writing she was "saddened to learn that Alabama has lost one of our most gifted writers."

"While he will be remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist & noted author of American history. Our hearts & prayers are extended to his family," Ivey added.

Groom was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Mobile County, Alabama. He discovered his love for writing at the University of Alabama, where he graduated with an English degree in 1965 before serving in Vietnam, Deadline reported.

After returning from the war, Groom worked as a reporter for the Washington Star before turning to a career as a novelist, according to CNN.

He completed his first novel, Better Times Than These, in 1978 and came out with his most popular book, Forrest Gump, in 1986.

While Groom wrote a total of 16 novels — both fiction and nonfiction — Forrest Gump was the one that shot him into the spotlight.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in the 1994 film
Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

In 1994, the novel was turned into a film starring Tom Hanks and went on to win six Academy Awards, including Hanks for best actor. Groom published a sequel called Gump and Co. one year later.

Thanks to the popularity of the film, Forrest Gump sold 1.7 million copies, according to Deadline.

In addition to the popular novel, Groom also wrote about the Civil War, World War I and the University of Alabama's famed football team, NBC News reported.

Groom's alma mater also reacted to the author's death on social media, calling him a "legend."

"We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Legends, Winston Groom. A 1965 UA graduate, Groom authored 16 books, including Forrest Gump. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time," the school shared in a statement on Twitter Thursday evening.

In 2011, the author received Alabama's notable Harper Lee Award and became a member of the Alabama Writers' Hall of Fame 2018 class.

He published his most recent novel, El Paso, in 2016.