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William Griffith Wilson
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William Griffith Wilson

William Griffith Wilson (commonly known as Bill Wilson or "Bill W."), was a cofounder of the self-help group Alcoholics Anonymous. The other cofounder was Dr. Bob Smith.

Wilson was born in East Dorset, Vermont. After a troubled childhood, became an alcoholic at age 22. Seventeen years later, while recuperating in a hospital, he was inspired to help others caught in a similar situation; this became the inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymous, founded on the notion that "Only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic." In 1941, when the Saturday Evening Post ran an article on the group, it took off.

As the movement grew, Wilson refused greater leadership power, preferring the movement to be based on anonymity. He refused numerous honors during his life, including an honorary degree from Yale University, and refused to allow himself to be on the covers of magazines.

The phrase "Friends of Bill W." is sometimes a code for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Wilson died of emphysema and pneumonia in 1971, in Miami, Florida.