William Deming Hornaday, journalist and teacher, was born at Plainfield, Indiana, on February 4, 1868, the son of Anson Deming and Sarah Hurid (Hanna) Hornaday. He began his first newspaper job at age seventeen and during the next twelve years worked for newspapers in Indianapolis, Columbus, Denver, and Memphis. He moved to Texas in 1898 and wrote first for the San Antonio Times and later for the San Antonio Express. He received national attention for his investigative reporting on the poor rations received by United States soldiers. Hornaday became a special correspondent for a network of newspapers across the country, to which he reported on everything from the Galveston hurricane of 1900 to the Mexican revolution. He spent two years in Mexico as publicity director for the Mexican National Railway and had interviews with Victoriano Huerta, Francisco I. Madero, Francisco (Pancho) Villa, Porfirio Díaz, Álvaro Obregón, Venustiano Carranza, and Emiliano Zapata. He made trips to Europe, the Far East, and several Pacific Islands.
In 1917 Hornaday accepted a position as director of publicity for the University of Texas, and he served in that capacity until his death; he was also a lecturer in the Department of Journalism from 1917 to 1935. In 1921 he established a clipping service, student owned and operated, which collected newspaper accounts and letters of World War I Texas servicemen. Also in the 1920s Hornaday wrote a news story about the possibility of finding oil under university land in West Texas; the story resulted in the exploration and subsequent development of the university's oil interests.
Hornaday married Marjorie Rochow on February 28, 1891, and they had four children. Hornaday died at his home in Austin on December 6, 1942, after suffering a stroke; he was buried at Oakwood Cemetery. The collections of newspaper clippings and photographs from the late 1890s and from his travels in the South Pacific were given to the Texas State Library by his son in 1975.