Birdy is the debut novel of William Wharton, who was more than 50 years old when it was published. It won the U.S. National Book Award in category First Novel.[1] Birdy was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1980,[2] ultimately losing to The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer.[3]

Front cover of first edition
AuthorWilliam Wharton
Cover artistFred Marcellino
Publication date
December 1978
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
[citation needed]
Media typePrint & Audio

Birdy was adapted as a film of the same name, directed by Alan Parker and starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage.

The novel has said to have been a lyrical influence on the song "The King of Birds" by American alternative rock band R.E.M.[4]

Naomi Wallace, a poet and playwright, adapted Birdy for the stage in 1997.


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1980". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-28. (With essay by Dorianne Laux from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
    • First novels or first works of fiction were recognized from 1980 to 1985.
  2. ^ "1980 Finalists". Pulitzer Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  3. ^ "1980 Winners". Pulitzer Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  4. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (2017). "R.E.M. Ponder Earthquakes and Artistry on 'King of Birds': The Story Behind Every 'Document' Song". Diffuser. Archived from the original on 2017-08-31.