American novelist born in Ohio in 1837 and died in 1920. He began working as a journalist and later moved to Venice as American consul during the years 1861-1865, an experience that was reflected in his Venetian Life (1866) and Italian Journeys (1867). Between 1871 and 1878, was Deputy Director of the Atlantic Monthly and then was editor in Chief between 1871 and 1881. Between 1886 and 1891 would be Harper´s magazine, where he published numerous articles on literature. Howells opened the realism in the late 19th century American novel, introducing the everyday world in literature, as well as new characters and other facets of other writers who were already common, as the woman, who no longer presents as a discreet and restrained character.
Among his many novels are, for example, Their Wedding Journey (1872), The Lady of the Aroostook (1879), The Undiscovered Country (1880) and Indian Summer (1886). The everyday world is reflected in photographic way in the novels of Howells, as in the rise of Silas Lapham (1885, his best work), a work where raw intuition, since what is counted is outside, without entering the inside of the characters, fully in what they think. Vulgarity is introduced as a novelty in the American novel in the hands of William D. Howells. Factories, workers strikes and the ruin of families appear in the rise of Silas Lapham.
Another of his novels is A Modern Instance (1882), where Howells uses everyday language that is also new in American literature. In this novel the author reflects a wild and violent world where there are fights in bars, insults and death.
A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890) shows his political and critical thoughts toward socialism and social realism. His works of criticism include Criticism and Fiction (1891), My Literary Passions (1895), Literary Friends and Acquaintances (1900) and Literature and Life (1902). He also wrote some plays. His work and influence made him the most important man in the world of letters of his time.