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Donald Douglas Harington was born Dec. 22, 1935, in Little Rock. He spent summers in his mother's home town of Drakes Creek, Ark., which was the model for Stay More.
When he lost his hearing to bacterial meningitis, Mr. Harington immersed himself in reading. He studied art at the University of Arkansas, graduating in 1956 and receiving a master's degree in printmaking in 1958. He received a master's degree in art history from Boston University in 1959 and studied at Harvard before teaching at a girls' school in New York and at Windham College in Putney, Vt.
Before returning to Arkansas in 1981, Mr. Harington struggled with alcoholism and was divorced from his first wife, Nita Harrison. He was on the University of Arkansas's art history faculty from 1986 to 2008.
In the 1980s, he received a letter from a reader named Kim McClish, who said his novels had inspired her to visit ghost towns in Arkansas. Mr. Harington joined her in the project, and they were married in 1983. He said she helped him overcome his drinking problem and a long writer's block.
She survives, along with three daughters from his first marriage; a stepson; a sister; and four grandchildren.
In recent years, Mr. Harington began to receive wider recogntion for his work. He won the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction in 2003 and received the first lifetime achievement award for Southern literature from Oxford American magazine in 2006.
Reflecting on the inspiration for his small town in the Ozarks, Mr. Harington said in 1999: "In the back of my mind, Faulkner's remark about his own little postage stamp of earth has constantly returned to me. And I thought . . . why not take it farther and take the little village of Stay More and turn that into my own postage stamp of earth? And I discovered very quickly that I could not live long enough to exhaust the possibilities of life in that one little town."