Born in Clarksville, Texas in 1924, Humphrey moved with his mother to Dallas at aged 13 after his father was killed in a car accident. He attended Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas, but did not graduate from either school.
Humphrey taught at Bard College in New York where he mentored playwright and author Sherman Yellen prior to retiring from academia to write full time. He died of cancer in 1997, at the age of 73, in Hudson, New York.
The author of thirteen books, including five novels, collections of short stories and a memoir, Humphrey's first novel, Home from the Hill, was made into an 1960 MGM film, directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Robert Mitchum and Eleanor Parker. His second novel, The Ordways, was reviewed by the New York Times as "Funny, vivid and moving, this is a fine piece of work and a delight to read," and was compared to the writings of William Faulkner and Mark Twain.