William Murray, born in New York City on April 8, 1926, was the only child of William Murray, head of the New York branch
of William Morris talent agency and Danesi Murray, an Italian actress, opera singer, and publisher. At age 6 months, after
his parents divorced, Murray moved with his mother to Rome, Italy; he returned to the United States at the age of 8. He attended
Phillips Exeter Academy from 1942-1943, and, after graduating, he enrolled at Harvard, where he developed his interest in
opera and singing. After college, he spent time in the Army Air Force and qualified for the GI Bill. He returned to Italy
shortly after to pursue his opera career; when he lost his voice temporarily, he turned to fiction and journalism. Already
a freelance writer and a stringer for TIME, he acquired his first professional job in the fiction department at the THE NEW YORKER in 1956 and continued as a staff writer for more than thirty years.