William James Durant (/dəˈrænt/; November 5, 1886 – November 7, 1981) was an American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for The Story of Philosophy, written in 1926, described as "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy"
Durant was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, of French-Canadian parents Joseph Durant and Mary Allard, who had been part of the Quebec emigration to the United States.
He became the principal of Ferrer Modern School, an advanced school intended to educate the working-classes; he also taught there. At the Modern School, he fell in love with and married a fifteen-year-old pupil, Chaya (Ida) Kaufman, whom he later nicknamed "Ariel". The Durants had one daughter, Ethel, and adopted a son, Louis.
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