Douglas Reed was born on September 18, 1981, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father, Steven Reed, was an accountant who owned a moderately successful local firm. His mother worked part-time as a social worker.
As an only child with a precocious personality, Douglas spent most of his childhood alone. He became self-sufficient at an early age, learning to take care of himself while his parents were away at work, due to an uncanny ability to drive away all his babysitters.
Among Douglas' many talents was a keen intelligence that led his parents to enroll him in advanced private schools until his senior year of high school. Even then, he skipped two grades and graduated valedictorian at the age of sixteen.
Douglas went on to attend Berkeley University on a full-ride scholarship, where he spent four years triple-majoring in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Classics. Long, hot New Mexico summers shut indoors with nothing but books for company had given rise to a fervent affinity for reading and writing.
In 2002, Douglas entered the prestigious English Literature PhD program at Berkeley. Five years later, his dissertation on the stylistic disparities between 19th-century British and American literature through the varying uses of identical motifs earned him a doctorate degree. He remained at the university as an assistant professor and post-doc research fellow until 2009, when a minor scandal involving Douglas and one of his colleagues forced his resignation.
Douglas recovered almost immediately by accepting an adjunct professorship at the University of Mississippi. His innovative research and popularity as a lecturer resulted in a promotion to tenure-track associate professor in 2012.
Opinions on Douglas Reed's image and personality are widely split. A former mentor appraised him as "one of the most brilliant minds in the field today," and students commend him as an "amazing professor." On the other hand, colleagues have referred to him as "a brazen ladder-climber" and "a pompous, ungrateful wretch." There have also been widely circulated rumors of his frequent dalliances with several different women.
At the time of his death, Douglas had been working with other University of Mississippi faculty as a committee member in the 2013 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. His body was found on the morning of July 22, 2013, in at meeting room at the Yoknapatawpha County Conference Center.