Although the novels of Walker Percy represent some of the most prominent work in twentieth-century Southern fiction, the Percy family itself has a history that is arguably as compelling as anything he could have created. Behind Percy's prose lurks a legacy of wealth, literary accomplishment, political leadership, depression, and suicide that spans two centuries. In The House of Percy, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, a leading scholar of the South, skillfully combines intensive research and telling insights to produce the unforgettable story of this gifted family. The history begins with their first prominent ancestor, "Don Carlos" Percy, an eighteenth-century soldier of fortune who amassed a large estate only to fall victim to mental disorder and suicide, and concludes with poet and war hero Will Percy who shared his home with Walker and his brothers after the suicidal death of their father and their mother's drowning. In between, the author recovers the tragic lives and literary achievements of several Percy-related women, and chronicles the fiery life of Senator LeRoy Percy who defied the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Throughout his biography of this powerful dynasty, Wyatt-Brown draws out the twin themes of an inherited inclination to despondency and an abiding sense of honor. The House of Percy reveals the surprising possibility that melancholy itself may lead to inspiring and artistically creative results.