Birth of BigBook

The story of the creation of the bible of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is properly named "Alcoholics Anonymous", popularly called The Big Book, is a sad tale of lies and cheating, theft and dishonesty, all done by Bill Wilson, and even the death of an early A.A. member, Henry Parkhurst, who couldn't stand Bill Wilson's scheming and chicanery.

First off, Bill Wilson was only one of many authors of the Big Book. Bill was the principal author of the non-biographical opening chapters, the much-ballyhooed "first 164 pages." But Bill had lots of free help. There were at least 32 authors. Just for starters, Henry "Hank" Parkhurst wrote the detailed outline for the whole book, and then he wrote the chapters "To Employers" and The Unbeliever. And it's hard to say exactly what-all else Hank wrote, because Bill Wilson had a bad habit of lying and minimizing what Hank wrote, because Bill stole all of it. Bill Wilson claimed sole ownership of the Big Book when he filed for the copyright, in violation of his promises to the other A.A. members who wrote all of the autobiographical chapters, and who were led to believe that the group would jointly own the book.

(Thanks to and for the following information. Please note that the author of the following table wishes to give Bill Wilson much less credit for the opening chapters than I would. He says that Joe Worth wrote "Bill's Story" and "To Wives, and that chapters 2 through 9 and 11 were the product of "teamwork." I feel that Bill Wilson really is to blame for a lot of the insanity that is in the first 164 pages.)

Who wrote what in the Big Book?
  • Joe Worth (Chapter 1 "Bill's Story", probably Chapter 8 "To Wives") — NYC
  • Team work (Chapters 2 through 9 and 11) — New York City, Akron, Cleveland
  • Henry "Hank" Parkhurst (Chapter 10 "To Employers" and "The Unbeliever", as well as the outline for the whole book) — NYC/NJ
  • Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith ("Dr. Bob's Nightmare") — Akron
  • Dr. William D. Silkworth ("The Doctor's Opinion") — NYC
  • Fitz M. ("Our Southern Friend") — Washington, DC/Maryland
  • Clarence Snyder ("Home Brewmeister") — Cleveland
  • Ernie Galbraith ("The Seven Month Slip") — Akron (Dr. Bob's son-in-law, "A.A. Number Four", the constantly-relapsing philanderer whom Dr. Bob forced on his daughter, Sue Smith1.)
  • Charlie Simonson ("Riding The Rods") — Akron
  • Bob Oviatt ("The Salesman") — Akron
  • Archie 'Arch' Trowbridge ("The Fearful One" which became "The Man Who Mastered Fear") — Detroit/Grosse Point
  • Dick Stanley ("The Car Smasher", which became "He Had to be Shown") — Akron
  • Joe Doppler ("The European Drinker") — Akron
  • Florence Rankin ("A Feminine Victory") — NYC (Note: The REAL second A.A. Woman — not Marty Mann — who relapsed and disappeared. Is said to have committed suicide in Washington, DC.)
  • William 'Bill' Ruddel ("A Business Man's Recovery") — NYC
  • Harry Brick ("A Different Slant") — probably NYC
  • Jim Scott ("Traveler, Editor, Scholar") — Akron
  • Walter Bray ("The Back-Slider") — Akron
  • Marie Bray ("An Alcoholic's Wife") — Akron
  • Tom and Maybell Lucas ("My Wife and I") — Akron
  • William 'Bill' Van Horn ("A Ward of the Probate Court") — Akron
  • Wallace 'Wally' Gillam ("Fired Again") — Akron
  • Paul Stanley ("Truth Freed Me!") — Akron
  • Harold Sears ("Smile With Me, At Me") — NYC
  • Henry J. 'Harry' Zoeller ("A Close Shave") — Akron (later moved to NY)
  • Norman Hunt ("Educated Agnostic") — Akron? Darien, Connecticut?
  • Ralph Furlong ("Another Prodigal Story") — NYC? Springfield, Massachusetts? Darien, Conn.?
  • Myron Williams ("Hindsight") — NYC
  • Horace R. 'Popsy' Mayer ("On His Way") — NYC
  • Ray Campbell ("An Artist's Concept") — NYC/Carmel NY
  • Lloyd Tate ("The Rolling Stone") — Akron/Cleveland

    Inserted in the Second Edition:
  • Ethel M. ("From Farm To City") — Ohio
  • Bill Dotson ("Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three") — Akron
  • Jim Burwell ("The Vicious Cycle") — Washington, D.C. (For a while, Jim was "The Atheist of A.A.")
  • Sylvia K. ("The Keys of the Kingdom") — Chicago
  • Earl T. ("He Sold Himself Short") — Chicago
  • Esther A. ("A Flower of the South") — Texas
  • Abby G. ("He Thought He Could Drink Like A Gentleman") — Cleveland
  • Marty Mann ("Women Suffer Too") — NYC (NOT the first woman in A.A.)
  • Ruth Hock ("Lone Endeavor") [fabricated story, compiled from correspondence with several alcoholics, including Patrick Cooper's wife in Los Angeles.] — NYC
  • Wynn Corum ("Freedom From Bondage") — NYC [one of Bill Wilson's mistresses]

Also remember that Jim Scott ("Traveler, Editor, Scholar" — 1st Edition) edited all of the Akron stories (except Dr. Bob's) for the book. Several of these original stories pre-editing are stored at the Stepping Stones Archives. We don't know if Jim got paid for his editing expertise and work. There was also another writer who worked on the book shortening it prior to publication — Professor Tom Uzzell, New York. His payment, if any, is also unknown. Update: Tom Uzzell was paid $375 or $380 for his work.

Then, in April of 1939, on the copyright application form, Bill Wilson claimed sole ownership of the copyright of the Big Book for himself,

  • in spite of the fact that the book had at least 32 authors,
  • and in spite of the fact that he had already been paid for his writing work as contract labor (paid twice already: honestly the first time, when he was paid $1558 to write the first 11 chapters, and dishonestly the second time, when Bill helped himself to the Big Book publishing fund).
  • And in spite of the fact that he had repeatedly promised the 31 or so other co-authors that the book would be jointly owned by the whole group.

Big Book Copyright, front side
Original Big Book copyright certificate, front side.

Big Book Copyright, back side
Original Big Book copyright certificate, back side.

Note that Bill Wilson wrote on the copyright application that he was the Works Publishing company: that the book was authored by
"Wm. G. Wilson, trading as Works Publishing Co."
Bill Wilson was laying claim to owning everything, including the publishing company, in spite of the fact that he had already sold a lot of stock in the "One Hundred Men Corporation" which was supposed to write and publish the Big Book, and own the copyright.

Dr. Bob's daughter, Sue Smith Windows, of Akron, Ohio, says that Bill Wilson stole the copyright of the Big Book. She submitted a notarized statement to the German courts that are dealing with the AA Big Book copyright lawsuits there.
(Local copy here: orange-Sue_Smith.pdf)
Sue Smith Windows wrote:

The original ONE HUNDRED MEN CORPORATION as publishers of the book (it is my understanding that a facsimile of the prospectus by this corporation will also be entered into evidence) which became known as ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS sold stock shares with a par value of $25.00 each, It is also my understanding that this corporation was never legally incorporated in the State of New York or anywhere else and thus could not have legally sold shares except by fraudulent means.

To the best of my recollection, Bill Wilson used the monies from these shares as well as other donations to the ONE HUNDRED MEN CORPORATION in order to form his own corporation, WORKS PUBLISHING COMPANY. Bill then registered the book with the United States Copyright Office in the Spring of 1939 under his own name as sole author and trading as WORKS PUBLISHING COMPANY without the knowledge and/or consent of my father or any of the other members from Ohio. A majority of members of this Spiritual Fellowship resided in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio and the New York contingent was comprised of approximately 20 out of the 100 reported members at that time.

Mr. Henry G. (Hank) Parkhurst, another early member of the NY group from New Jersey, wrote the outline for the book and at least one complete chapter (TO EMPLOYERS). An AA historian who is writing Hank P.'s biography has reported that Bill Wilson's refusal to recognize him (Hank) as the author of at least that chapter was one of the precipitating factors in Hank's eventual split with AA. It is my understanding that Bill Wilson took sole ownership of the book as copyright holder despite his not being the author and thus unlawfully copyrighted the book under his own name on April 10, 1939. The true authors of this book were the members of the Fellowship. The personal stories were written by individual members and edited by Jim Scott (an Akron, Ohio member). Bill Wilson also did not write the first eleven- (11) chapters. He only wrote a lengthy life story of his own, typed by Ruth Hock. He included some resentments against Christianity and a report about what Ebby Thacher told him. This piece was written so poorly, that it could only be used for the book after Joe Worth, a member of the NY group and successful professional founder and editor of "NY Magazine", had rewritten it entirely.

I know Bill Wilson was no way the author of Alcoholics Anonymous, but a promoter. He himself admitted to his being more of an umpire than ever an author of the book. (Page s10 in the AAWS Service Manual has Bill Wilson stating that "I became much more of an umpire than I was ever an author.") In Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers Bill Wilson is quoted, "Bob was far ahead of me in that sort of activity. I was always rushing around talking and organizing and 'teaching kindergarten.' I never grew up myself' and I can confirm that. Rather than argue with, and possibly embarrass Bill Wilson, my father chose not to expose Bill for his devious ways for the good of the Fellowship.

One of the authors of a personal story that appeared in the original manuscript (ACE FULL...SEVEN ELEVEN) from Akron asked that his story be removed from the book prior to publication after finding out about Bill's personal financial aspirations from the sale of the book. It was revealed that Bill and Ruth Hock already publicly distributed the multilith manuscript and sold it for $3.50. A part of the approximately 400 copies were not sold. Neither my father's copy nor any of the other copies I have ever seen or heard of had been stamped "Loan Copy," or bore any such similar statement. The relating report in AA Comes of Age (page 165) is fraudulent and dead wrong. Many of the Ohio members were also upset but were told by my father that for the good of the Fellowship not to further hinder publication of the book.
I believe that since the copyright on the First and Second Edition of the book, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS was allowed to lapse, either on purpose or by oversight, so should any of Bill Wilson's written contributions to AA be placed in the public domain as have my father's writing's. Authorship of the AA book was a group effort and as such, authorship cannot be attributed to any one person. I attest that the above statement is true to the best of my recollection and do hereby affix my signature below.

(Signed) Sue Smith Windows
Signed, this 7th day of January in the year of our Lord, 1999

The text that Sue Smith Windows refers to on page 165 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age is:

Four hundred mimeograph copies of the book were made and sent to everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism. Each mimeograph was stamped "Loan Copy" in order to protect our coming copyright.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, page 165.

Doctor Bob's daughter says that Bill Wilson lied. There was no such stamp on the copies. (The A.A. historian Mitchell K. reported that he had seen about 20 of the multilith edition copies, and none of them had such a stamp on them.)

You see, if the first printing isn't copyrighted, and that first multilith printing wasn't, then the copyright is lost forever and the book falls into the public domain immediately. Wilson learned that grim fact too late — he had already sold a bunch of multilith (like mimeograph) copies of the book for $3.50 each — so he fabricated the story that the multilith copies were just preliminary pre-press loaner review copies, and not a real printing. But when someone sells copies of a book, it's a real printing, no matter how small or primitive the printing is.

And, as one wit said, "Losing a copyright is like losing your virginity. Once you lose it, it's gone, and you can't get it back."

When Sue Smith Windows declared that the copyright on the Big Book and Bill's other writings should be allowed to lapse, she probably did not realize that her wish had already been granted. There actually was no valid copyright on the Big Book, not ever.

And even if there had been one, it would have had to have been renewed after 28 years. But it was not. As unbelievable as it may seem, the staff at the Alcoholics Anonymous headquarters in New York City was so incompetent that they neglected to renew the copyright on the Big Book. They let the copyright expire.

So the copyright of the first edition (1939) would have lapsed in 1967, and the copyright of the second edition (1955) would have lapsed in 1983 — if they had ever been valid, which they weren't. The second edition of the Big Book contains both The Twelve Steps and The Twelve Traditions, so both have unquestionably been in the public domain since at least 1983.

      An unknown author has sleuthed out some more very revealing truths about Bill Wilson's handling of the Big Book finances from Bill Wilson's later book, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age.
Check it out. That web page also features a breakdown of the Big Book project's very questionable finances and obvious fraud.

A newly-organized company, called Works Publishing Inc. was founded June 20th, 1940. Herbert Taylor was the President and Horace Crystal was the Vice-President. Bill Wilson was not involved, and not allowed to hold any office in the new company, because he had previously taken and spent thousands of dollars of stock subscriber cash plus Charles B. Towns' donations and other moneys, as well as dishonestly filing for the copyright in his own name.

Note that this was a new corporation. Bill Wilson had used the name "Works Publishing" on the copyright form, but there was no such company in existence other than "Wm. G. Wilson, trading as Works Publishing Co." until this new company was incorporated in June, 1940. Henry Parkhurst and Bill Wilson had previously started up and sold shares in the "One Hundred Men Corporation", remember, and that is the company that was supposed to write and publish the book. But throughout his Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age book, Bill Wilson talked constantly about Works Publishing, and says that it was the company that did it all. In that book, Wilson did not even admit that the "One Hundred Men Corporation" ever existed. He says that they went around selling stock in Works Publishing to raise the money to support writing the Big Book. That is false. William Wilson, Henry Parkhurst and William J. Ruddel were selling stock in the "One Hundred Men Corporation". See the subscription form.

Here is the financial statement that they prepared, that shows the receipts and disbursements of the early book project. Also note the name switch. Stock had been sold in, and moneys collected for,

--> "The One Hundred Men Corporation". <--
But the financial statement purported to explain the financial operations of a company called "Works Publishing Co.". What happened to the One Hundred Men Corporation, and its shares, and its money? It seems to have been quietly forgotten.

Actually, what happened is the other members of Alcoholics Anonymous covered up for Bill Wilson's crimes, to avoid a scandal. They started telling a story about how they had simply decided to change the name of the company from "The One Hundred Men Corporation" to "Works Publishing". That was after Bill had copyrighted the Big Book in the name of Works Publishing, claiming that he was the publishing company — that it was a sole proprietorship, "Wm G. Wilson, dba Works Publishing".

Works Publishing Company, financial statement for October 1938 through June 1940.

Works Publishing Company, Receipts and Disbursements Statement for October 1938 through June 1940, only.

Bill Wilson invested $100 in the company, and then was paid $1558 to write the first 11 chapters of the Big Book. He was supposed to be paid $1000 for the work, but he ended up getting paid $1558. That was very generous:

  • $1558 in Year 1939 dollars equals $18,407.46 in Year 2000 dollars. Not too bad, for a few months spent writing or co-writing nine or ten chapters (9 or 10 because Henry Parkhurst wrote the "To Employers" chapter, and Joe Worth wrote or rewrote Bill's own story).
  • That was really not too bad, considering that Bill Wilson was a failed "stock analyst", not a professional writer, and not an expert on recovery.
  • And that was really, really not too bad, considering that Doctor Bob's daughter, Sue Smith Windows, says that other people did most of the writing, and that Bill Wilson was such a bad writer that everything he wrote had to be rewritten.
  • Bill wasn't even a knowledgeable alcoholism recovery counselor, either. By December 1938, Bill's sole experience with recovery was completing 4 years of sobriety for himself, helping to sober up Doctor Bob, and then getting about 20 members of his New York group to stay sober for shorter periods of time, while surreptitiously indoctrinating them all with the religion of Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman and his Oxford Groups, and then watching the A.A. members relapse repeatedly...

But that wasn't enough money for Bill, not nearly enough. He then took and spent much of the money that had been raised to print the book. Henrietta Seiberling was rather upset about it.

Bill Wilson was so eager to make money off of the book that he printed up a premature multilith edition that contained no copyright notice and sold copies for $3.50 each. That immediately, permanently, voided any possible copyright on the book. (Once a copyright is lost, it can never be regained. If something is first published without a copyright notice, or if the first printing is not properly copyrighted, then the work immediately falls into the public domain, and remains there forevermore.)

When Wilson learned of the seriousness of his error, he fraudulently filed for the copyright in his own name, claiming that he was the sole author of the book, and doing business as the publishing company "Works Publishing" (which did not exist). Note that the resulting copyright was invalid, and has always been invalid, and is still invalid.
(That is why you can legally download copies of the first edition Big Book from the Internet for free.)

Then Bill Wilson traded the copyright that he had stolen for a lifetime income in what looks suspiciously like a blackmail deal. The "Alcoholic Foundation" absolutely had to have the copyright to be able to continue publishing the Big Book, and Bill Wilson had it, so Bill dictated terms that gave him an income for the rest of his life. (The other alcoholics did not realize that the copyright was invalid.)

First, the deal was that Bill got $100 per month (if available from book sales), for the use of the book's copyright, in addition to a $120 per month stipend that came from outside donations, like from John D. Rockefeller Jr.. (Yes, those outside donations that are forbidden by the Seventh Tradition.)

Later, the agreement was changed (by Bill) to Bill receiving royalties for life (and beyond) on the sales of the book. By 1944, the royalties had climbed to $200 per month, and kept going up. Bill never worked again. Bill died rich. (Lois Wilson's heirs still collect over $1 million per year in royalties from this deal and Bill's other writings.) None of the other co-authors, except Doctor Bob, got a penny from the Big Book. Bill took it all.

Original Big Book assignment of copyright to Works Publishing, Inc. document.

Note that the deal is not explicitly spelled out in this document; it simply says that Bill Wilson got $1 and "other good and lawful consideration." And he got a whole lot of "other good and lawful consideration"; in the end, millions of dollars.

In that document where Bill assigns all rights in the Big Book to Works Publishing, Inc., Bill stated:

I WILLIAM G. WILSON doing business as Works Publishing Company, of New York City, N. Y. ... do sell, assign and transfer over unto WORKS PUBLISHING, INC. ... all my right, title, and interest in and to the copyright, Class A, No. 128036 heretofore taken out by me for the book entitled "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS," of which I am author and proprietor ...

Another person who cast a critical eye on the Big Book deal asked whether all of the authors of the stories in the Big Book signed over the rights to their stories to Bill Wilson. If not, then Bill Wilson could not sign over all of the rights to the Big Book to Works Publishing, Inc. He could not sell what he did not own.

There is no record of any such signing party. In fact, the authors of the stories were angry that Bill had stolen the copyright after he promised them that the book would be owned by the group, so they didn't sign anything over to Bill.

The website points out,
"A post card needed a 1 Cent stamp only, and the average monthly income of an employed worker was around $40."

At $120 to $320 per month, Bill was giving himself a salary three to eight times higher than that of the average worker. In addition, the A.A. organization gave Bill a $27,000 house, which they named "Stepping Stones", and a Cadillac car. He had all of that while he was technically unemployed for nine years.

They [narcissists] often usurp special privileges and extra resources that they believe they deserve because they are so special.
DSM-IV == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition; Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 1994; page 659.

And while all of this was going on, Bill hypocritically exhorted the other members of A.A. to work unselfishly, abandon self-seeking, and to have no thought of the profit motive:

The unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive, and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.
— The Big Book, 3rd Edition, The Doctor's Opinion, page XXV.

"Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."
"Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!"
— The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 5, page 62.

"We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change."
— The Promises, in The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 6, page 84.

"On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives."
— The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 6, page 86.

"To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action."
— The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 7, page 93.

Bill Wilson's psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Tiebout, was irritated with Wilson's distortion of the history of A.A. and the Big Book. Ernest Kurtz reported in his book, Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, that:

A report on this first meeting of the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous in the June 1951 A.A. Grapevine again roused the ire of Dr. Harry Tiebout. The psychiatrist wrote Wilson an accusing letter, "pointing out the dangers of historical distortion, egotism, and damaging ingratitude." His special objection was that Bill had unjustly ignored the role of A.A.'s non-alcoholic friends in saving Works Publishing, Inc., in its troubled early days. This particularly irked the doctor because he himself had been an open-pursed purchaser of the apparently worthless stock.
      In rejoinder, Wilson acknowledged that some clarity had indeed been lacking in his brief description of that episode of history, but Bill went on to deny vigorously an intentional "historical distortion" in the interests of making Alcoholics Anonymous appear "self-sufficient" and so more maturely independent than had actually been the case in its early days. He pointed out, in obvious high dudgeon, that "in the past year we've tremendously spread information concerning the vital roles played by Silkworth, Tiebout, Dowling, Fosdick, Rockefeller, Richardson, Alexander and a dozen others."
Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, Ernest Kurtz, page 130.

But, Bill, you forget to say anything about the One Hundred Men Corporation, or where all of that money went...

Here is an exchange of letters, to and from Clarence Snyder, the Chairman of the Cleveland Central Committee of A.A., in Cleveland, Ohio (and also the author of the Big Book chapter "Home Brewmeister"), complaining about the whole arrangement between Bill Wilson and the A.A. organization, ending in his resignation.

With a name change, "Works Publishing, Inc." morphed into "Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing, Inc.", which was a private, for-profit corporation.

Original Works Publishing Company name change document, page 1.

Original Works Publishing Company name change document, page 2.

Original Works Publishing Company name change document, page 3.

Bill Wilson's royalty agreement of 1963 with A.A.W.S., Inc.

Bill Wilson's Last Will and Testament, leaving ten percent of his estate to his favorite mistress, Helen Wynn, and the other ninety percent to his wife Lois.

Lois Wilson's Last Will and Testament, where the royalty money for all of Bill's books leaves the A.A. fellowship forever, and goes to some people who just heard about A.A., or who maybe just saw the made-for-TV movie "My Name Is Bill W.".

Note that, when the second edition of the Big Book was published in 1955, Bill Wilson carried out a Stalin-like purge of almost all of the original A.A. Big Book authors, those other old-timers who had almost as much seniority as Bill Wilson, and who could complain that Wilson had broken his promise to them. (Stalin got rid of all of the other old-timers who could possibly be rivals and threaten his supremacy, and so did Bill.) Bill Wilson had promised them that they would all own the book in common, and that the profits would go to the Alcoholic Foundation. What really happened was that Bill Wilson ended up owning the copyright, and Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob got all of the royalties from the book, and nobody else got anything. Wilson removed the other old-timers' stories and replaced them with new stories by other authors who had not been promised anything.

There was also the problem of relapsers. Fully fifty percent of the Big Book authors had failed to maintain sobriety. Bill Wilson never publicized that fact; he just silently replaced their stories with new stories from some other A.A. enthusiasts who also grandly declared that A.A. had miraculously saved them from a life of drunkenness.

Henry Parkhurst's chapter in the front of the book, To Employers, was left in, but his autobiographical story, The Unbeliever, was discarded. Hank was not in a position to complain, because he was dead. (He died drunk.) Dr. Bob's autobiographical chapter was left in, but he had been sharing in the money, so he wouldn't complain. Besides, he was a co-founder, and his writings were considered sacred. Besides, he was also dead, so he couldn't complain either. Three other people were left in, but they were vastly outnumbered, if not dead, so they couldn't make much of a fuss, even if they wished to. One of them was Fitz M., whose story Our Southern Friend had to be left in because his story was also described at the end of the We Agnostics chapter — he was the one who allegedly heard God say, "Who are you to say there is no God?" Besides which, Fitz was also a true believer, and he wouldn't complain. Clarence Snyder, the founder of A.A. in Cleveland was retained (only to be dumped out of the 4th edition). But almost everybody else was purged.

The new Big Book authors got no promises about how "We will all share the ownership of the book." The new generation of authors clearly understood that Bill Wilson was the King who would be supported in comfort for the rest of his life, while they would get nothing for their stories.

Bill's behavior was typical of someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dr. Alexander Lowen said of narcissists:

A striving for power and control characterizes all narcissistic individuals. Not every narcissist gains power and not every person with power is a narcissist, but a need for power is part of the narcissistic disorder.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 75.

For narcissists, control serves the same function as power — it protects them from possible humiliation. First, they control themselves by denying those feelings which might make them vulnerable. But they also have to control situations in which they find themselves; they have to make sure that there is no possibility that some other person will have power over them. Power and control are two sides of the same coin. Together, they work to protect the individual from feeling vulnerable, from feeling powerless to prevent a humiliation.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 77.

The first edition Big Book authors fared like this:

Henry "Hank" Parkhurst (The Unbeliever) — NYC/NJ Gone
Dr. Robert H. Smith (Dr. Bob's Nightmare) — Akron Stayed
Dr. William D. Silkworth ("The Doctor's Opinion") — NYC Stayed
Fitz M. (Our Southern Friend) — Washington, DC/Maryland Stayed
Clarence Snyder (Home Brewmeister) — Cleveland Stayed
Removed from the 4th edition because he criticized Bill Wilson.
Ernie Galbraith (The Seven Month Slip) — Akron
"AA #4", Dr. Bob's constantly—relapsing son—in—law.
Charlie Simonson (Riding The Rods) — Akron Gone
Bob Oviatt (The Salesman) — Akron Gone
Arch T. (The Fearful One) — Detroit/Grosse Point Gone
Dick S. (The Car Smasher) — Akron Gone
Joe D. (The European Drinker) — Akron Stayed
Florence Rankin (A Feminine Victory) — NYC Gone
Note: The REAL First A.A. Woman, who relapsed and disappeared.)
William 'Bill' Ruddel (A Business Man's Recovery) — NYC Gone
Harry Brick (A Different Slant) — probably NYC Gone
Jim Scott (Traveler, Editor, Scholar) — Akron Gone
Walter Bray (The Back—Slider) — Akron Gone
Marie Bray (An Alcoholic's Wife) — Akron Gone
Tom and Maybell Lucas (My Wife and I) — Akron Gone
William 'Bill' Van Horn (A Ward of the Probate Court) — Akron Gone
Wallace 'Wally' Gilliam (Fired Again) — Akron Gone
Paul Stanley (Truth Freed Me!) — Akron Gone
Harold Sears (Smile With Me, At Me) — NYC Gone
Henry J. 'Harry' Zoeller (A Close Shave) — Akron (later moved to NY) Gone
Norman Hunt (Educated Agnostic) — Akron Gone
Ralph Furlong (Another Prodigal Story) — NYC Gone
Myron Williams (Hindsight) — NYC Gone
Horace R. 'Popsy' Mayer (On His Way) — NYC Gone
Ray Campbell ( An Artist's Concept) — NYC/Carmel NY Gone
Lloyd Tate (The Rolling Stone) — Akron/Cleveland Gone

In the final analysis, it appears that Bill Wilson acted just like the phony guru of any other cult. He took all of the money for himself, while exhorting all of the other cult members to work harder, to be selfless and abandon self-seeking, and to have no thought of personal profit.

Then Bill even had the gall to use part of the stolen money to support a mistress on the side — Helen Wynn, one of his many mistresses — thus thanking his wife, Lois Wilson, for her many years of supporting him, and suffering through the "Stand By Your Man" routine, with a real slap in the face.

Typical. Just really typical.

William Wilson
"What, me get a job? You've got to be joking. It's your job to support me, because I'm special."

The S.O.S. Europe web page says this about cult leaders:

Nothing will stand in the way of their visions, schemes and self-glorification — not even the well-being of their partners or children. They manipulate the minds of vulnerable members, extorting money and sexual favors and/or abusing them psychologically, physically and/or sexually.

They got that right.


1) Ernie Galbraith, A.A. Number Four:
See the book Children Of The Healer for Sue Smith Windows' story of her father, the autocratic "Doctor Bob", forbidding her to see her high-school sweetheart, Ray Windows, and using the older alcoholic womanizer Ernie Galbraith — "AA #4" — to break up her romance with Ray. Ernie ended up grabbing Susan for himself. It was a disastrous marriage. Ernie relapsed constantly. He even wrote the story "The Seven Month Slip" for the Big Book, which described a seven-month-long relapse. He also philandered a lot, just like Bill Wilson. Ernie Galbraith's story was quietly removed from the second edition of the Big Book in 1955, but it took Sue until 1965 to get divorced from Ernie. Then, she finally married Ray Windows after his first wife died.


Bill W.       Robert Thomsen
Harper & Rowe, New York, 1975.
ISBN: 0-06-014267-7
Dewey: 362.29 W112t

For the standard party line about everything, see "The Big Book", really:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition.
    Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY.
    ISBN: 0-916856-00-3
    Dewey: 362.29 A347 1976

  • Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition     published as "anonymous", but really written by William G. Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, Joe Worth, and many other people.
    Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 2001.
    ISBN: 1-893007-16-2
    Dewey: 362.29 A347 2001

  • Note that the earlier editions of the A.A. book are available for free on the Internet. It seems that somebody was too "sober" to remember to renew the copyrights (if the original copyright was even ever valid, which is highly unlikely, because Bill Wilson stole the copyright for himself when the book was really written by more than 30 people).

Children Of The Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob's Kids     Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, As Told to Christine Brewer
Parkside Publishing Corp., Park Ridge, IL, 1992.
Hazelden Information Services, Center City, MN, 1994.
ISBN: 1-56838-3126 or 0-942421-48-5
Dewey: 362.292 SM52C
LCCN: 92-64114
Two children of Doctor Bob describe an alcoholic father who created a dysfunctional family.

Information on authorship of Big Book autobiographies:

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Last updated 24 March 2012.
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