William Griffith Wilson

(USA, 1895 – 1971), also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W., was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is an international mutual aid fellowship with about two million members worldwide belonging to approximately 10,000 groups, associations, organizations, cooperatives, and fellowships of alcoholics helping other alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.


Following AA’s Twelfth Tradition of anonymity, Wilson is commonly known as “Bill W.” or “Bill.” In order to identify each other, members of AA will sometimes ask others if they are “friends of Bill”. Although this question can be confusing, because “Bill” is a common name, it does provide a means of establishing the common experience of AA membership. After Wilson’s death in 1971, and amidst much controversy within the fellowship, his full name was included in obituaries by journalists who were unaware of the significance of maintaining anonymity within the organization.