William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he continues to live today. Raised in Sumner, Mississippi, he attended Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; Delta State College, Cleveland, Mississippi; and University of Mississippi, Oxford.

Since the 1970s, Eggleston’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, beginning with his above-mentioned 1976 show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (traveled to Seattle Art Museum; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Fredrick Wright Art Galleries, University of California at Los Angeles; Reed College, Portland, Oregon; and University of Maryland Art Gallery, College Park). Subsequent important solo presentations were held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 1990; the Barbican Gallery, London in 1992 (traveled to Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk, Denmark; Folkwang Museum, Essen; and Fotomuseum Winterthur); documenta IX, Kassel, Germany in 2002; Museum Ludwig, Cologne in 2003 (traveled to Museu Serralves, Porto; Nasjonalmuseet – Museet for samstidkunst, Oslo; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Albertina, Vienna; and Dallas Museum of Art). In 2008, a major career-spanning survey, William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Videos 1961-2008 was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and Haus der Kunst in Munich; it subsequently traveled to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Eggleston received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1975 and has been the recipient of numerous notable awards, including the University of Memphis Distinguished Achievement Award (1996); Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1998); International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement (2004); the Getty Images Lifetime Achievement Award (2004); and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, République Française (Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic) (2016), among others. The Aperture Foundation will honor Eggleston in October 2016. Work by the artist is held in major international museum collections.

Founded in 1992, the Eggleston Artistic Trust is dedicated to the representation and preservation of the work of William Eggleston and is directed by his sons Winston Eggleston and William Eggleston III.