William Edward Campbell was born in Mobile in 1893. His mother was from a prominent Mobile family, the Marches, but married for love and ended up in the small lumber towns of South Alabama. Here conditions were often primitive and schooling largely unavailable for her children. Scholar Rosemary Reisman believes March felt bereft of his Mobile heritage and unhappy to be away from the culture of his native city. After his service in France in World War I he returned to Mobile and found a job with the Waterman Steampship Corporation, whose president John B. Waterman reportedly felt sympathy for the young veteran he mistakenly believed had only six months to live. The rapid growth of Waterman gave "William March" the chance to pursue his writing without commercial pressure. His parties were famous in New York City, where he went to live full time among the literati in 1934, but a mental brakdown led to his return to Mobile in the late 1940s.
Mobile inspired his final novel The Bad Seed, yet that connection has been obscured by the Broadway and film adaptations based on Maxwell Anderson's play, which seem to take place in Connecticut or Long Island. On this site we will pursue the story, and how March wrote that story, as a portrait of Mobile.