William English Walling was born on 14 March 1877 in Louisville, Kentucky. Descended from a family of wealthy and influential politicians, Walling (called “English” rather than “William”) was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland while his father was posted there as United States Counsel. Returning to the United States in 1866, he attended Trinity Hall, a private school for boys in Louisville, Kentucky and eventually graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois at age sixteen in 1893. He entered the University of Chicago and earned a BS degree in 1897, earning high marks in most subjects but particularly in mathematics. He spent one year at Harvard Law School only to drop out and return to the University of Chicago to attend graduate school in 1898. He studied economics under Thorstein Veblen and socialphilosophy under John Dewey. Suddenly an indifferent student, he left graduate school after one year. While in Chicago he worked for a year as a state factory inspector and later joined Jane Addams’s Hull-House Settlement. He then moved to New York City to work in the Henry Street Settlement.
From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.