William Woodruff knew hard times as a child in Blackburn. His work as a grocer's lad supplemented the family's meagre income. He went to seek his fortune in London, labouring in an iron foundry. His potential was spotted by T.G.W.U. officials who encouraged him to study at night school. He went on to study at Oxford where he met Katherine Wright whom he married in 1941.
During the war he fought with the 24th Guards Brigade in North African and Italy. Afterwards he returned to Oxford and won a scholarship to study at Harvard. He became a professor at the University of Illinois teaching economic history. Katherine died and he married his second wife Helga in 1960.
It seemed his success would remain within the academic field, but, in 1993, he published his early life story - Billy Boy. This was re-issued in 2000 as The Road to Nab End and became a best seller. The sequel Beyond Nab End was similarly successful and William Woodruff's career was crowned with literary acclaim. He died on September 23rd 2008, aged 92.
Video by Kari Pack Productions
The following film about the life of William Woodruff appears by kind permission of Blackburn College Media Department. The short film is presented by Simon Entwistle . With grateful thanks to Kari Pack Productions including Tye Murray (Editor), Lucas Davies (Producer), Alex Burns (Camera Operator):