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William H. Armstrong grew up in Lexington, Virginia. He was graduated from Hampden–Sydney College and did graduate work at the University of Virginia. He taught ancient history and study techniques at the Kent School for fifty–two years. He also had a small sheep farm and lived in a house he built with his own hands. Author of more than a dozen books for adults and children, he won the John Newberry Medal for Sounder in 1970 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Hampden–Sydney College in 1986.