William Vaughn Moody was born July 8, 1869, in Spenser, Indiana. His parents died when he was young, and he worked his way through prep school and Harvard University, where he recieved both his B.A. (1893) and M.A. (1894), and became co-editor of Harvard Monthly. From 1894-95 he held the position of assistant in the English Department to Louis E. Gates. In 1895, Moody relocated to The University of Chicago as an instructor, a position that he held until 1903, when he was promoted to an assistant professorship. He left the University in 1907 to concentrate on his poetry.
During this time at the University, Moody published an untitled volume of poetry, as well as two poetic dramas, The Masque of Judgment in 1900, and The Fire Bringer in 1904. However, he is mostly noted for his 1906 play The Great Divide, hailed at the time as the "Great American Drama."
In 1908, Moody was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He married Harriet C. Brainerd on May 7, 1909. Also in that year, he saw his play The Faith Healer produced, an event that while it attracted some attention, was not considered a dramatic success. William Vaughn Moody was working on another poetic drama, The Death of Eve, when he died in Colorado Springs, CO, on October 17, 1910.