William Olaf Stapledon (May 10, 1886 – September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction. Stapledon was born in Seacombe, Wallasey, near Liverpool and was educated at Oxford, where he acquired a BA in Modern History and a Masters degree. In 1925, he was awarded a PhD in philosophy from the University of Liverpool.
Stapledon published A Modern Theory of Ethics, in 1929, but soon turned to fiction to present his ideas to a wider public. He went on to publish several works of fiction including Last and First Men (1930), Star Maker (1937) and Sirius (1944). Stapledon’s work influenced the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, C.S. Lewis, John Maynard Smith, Freeman Dyson and several notable others. Last and First Men and Star Maker in particular were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as J. B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill.