Charles Webb, who wrote the novel The Graduate, which was adapted into the hit 1967 film, "and then spent decades running from its success," died June 16, the New York Times reported. He was 81. Webb's novel, "written shortly after college and based largely on his relationship with his wife, Eve Rudd, was made into an era-defining film, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, that gave voice to a generation's youthful rejection of materialism."
Born into wealth, Webb and Rudd "carried that rejection well beyond youth, choosing to live in poverty and giving away whatever money came their way, even as the movie's acclaim continued to follow them," the Times noted.
"My whole life has been measured by it," he once told the Telegraph, though he did write an unpublished sequel, Gwen--narrated by Benjamin and Elaine's daughter--in the early 1990s and then Home School (2007), in which the main characters are grown up and teaching their own children. He agreed to publish it only to pay off a £30,000 (about $37,595) debt.
Webb's other books include Love, Roger (1969), The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1970), Orphans and Other Children (1975), The Abolitionist of Clark Gable Place (1976), Elsinor (1977) and Booze (1979).
"He had a very odd relationship with money," said Caroline Dawnay, who was briefly his agent in the early 2000s when his novel New Cardiff was made into the 2003 movie Hope Springs, starring Colin Firth. "He never wanted any. He had an anarchist view of the relationship between humanity and money." She added that he refused to do book signings, viewing them as "a sin against decency."
Webb "gave away homes, paintings, his inheritance, even his royalties from The Graduate, which became a million-seller after the movie's success, to the benefit of the Anti-Defamation League. He awarded his £10,000 [about $12,530] payout from Hope Springs as a prize to a performance artist named Dan Shelton, who had mailed himself to the Tate Modern in a cardboard box," the Times noted.