William Ewart Gladstone Louw, the youngest brother of N. P. van Wyk Louw, was born on 31 May 1931 in the Karoo village Sutherland, where he spent his childhood.
He matriculated at the S. A. Kollege School in Cape Town.
He studied at the University of Cape Town from 1931 -1935 and received his M.A. with a dissertation on the poetry of J. H. Leopold. He then continued his studies in Holland at the University of Amsterdam, where he obtained a D.Lit.
He returned to Cape Town in November 1938. Here he completed another Ph.D. with a dissertation on the influence of Gorter on Leopold (Die Invloed van Gorter op Leopold).
W. E. G. Louw was married to the composer Rosa Nepgen in 1944.
In 1945 he founded the independent magazine Standpunte together with N. P. van Wyk Louw and H. A. Mulder.
His first academic position was as professor for Afrikaans and Nederlands at the Rhodes University in Grahams Town .
In 1957 he accepted the post as Arts Editor at Die Burger, and remained there until the end of 1966.
From 1967 he served as professor of Dutch Literature at the University of Stellenbosch
until his retirement in 1978.
W. E. G. Louw died on 24 April 1980 in Stellenbosch.