Popular Culture References to William and Mary

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This is a draft list of books, television, and other mediums to make reference to the College of William and Mary either as characters' backstories or in setting the tales at the university.

Novels, short stories, etc.

  • The main character of Rita Mae Brown's book "Alma Mater" is in her senior year at William & Mary.
  • Exiles in America: A Novel by Christopher Bram
  • Randall Wallace (author of Braveheart) wrote a novel called "Love and Honor" whose main character went to William & Mary. Book is set in the late 18th century.


Steely Dan's lyrics to "My Old School" includes the line "Oh, no, William and Mary won't do." According to an Alumni Association article, the student paper the Flat Hat looked into this in the early 1980s. The bands writer apparently did not have a connection to the College and selected the College's name because it fit the cadence of the song.


  • NBC's "Scrubs" was created by William & Mary alum Bill Lawrence '90. One of the main characters was based on one of Bill's roommates.
  • The lead character for "Dirty, Sexy, Money" -- the show that had a brief run on NBC -- was a graduate of William & Mary Law School. We actually sent them a mock diploma for the set.
  • One of the popular "American Girl" series, starring a young woman named Felicity, is based in Williamsburg in 1774. Felicity wants to go to college at William & Mary.
  • In the last season of NBC's West Wing, the Alan Alda character is discussing with staff employment options following his loss in the presidential election. One that is offered are visiting professorships at a number of universities, including William & Mary.
  • 1978: "Perry Como's Early American Christmas" was filmed on campus.
  • 2007: "John Adams," television mini-series, released in 2008


Movies filmed on campus:

  • 1923: "America," see the scrapbooks of Mildred Barksdale and Leah James (released 2004)
  • 1940: "The Howards of Virginia," see "Activities and Meetings on Campus--Movie Made on Campus (1940)--"The Howards of Virginia""
  • 1979: "The Henderson Monster," see "Activities and Meetings on Campus--Movie Made on Campus (1979)--"The Henderson Monster""
  • 1981: "The Manions of America," television movie; the Wren Building stood in for buildings in Philadelphia
  • 1995: "Creature from Crim Dell," by Lee Sullivan, student 1994/1995; see the University Archives Audiovisual Collection
  • 1996: "Gospel of Liberty"
  • 2007: "John Adams," television mini-series, released in 2008
  • In the movie "Nims Island" Jodie Foster wore a W&M T-shirt in one of the scenes. It is uncertain if the character was connected to the College.

Need help?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.