William Abrahams was born and raised in the Boston area and educated at Harvard University. After serving in World War II, he published poetry and novels, including By the Beautiful Sea (1947) and Imperial Waltz (1954), before becoming a book editor in 1963. Abrahams’ editing career was distinguished, having edited over 350 books, including many by important prose writers, and judging annual O. Henry short story awards for more than three decades. At Abrahams’s death, the New York Times wrote that he was “credited with almost single-handedly preserving the short story as a viable genre.”

Abrahams was also the author of several nonfiction books with his partner, the historian Peter Stansky, including The Unknown Orwell (1972, two volumes), Orwell: The Transformation (1980), and London’s Burning: Life, Death and Art in the Second World War (1994).