Born in 1975, William Hadden Whyte is the son of Bill and Marian Whyte. He went up to the University of Oxford, where he completed his undergraduate studies at Wadham College (matriculating in 1994); in his third and final year, he completed his undergraduate thesis on the Victorian architect T. G. Jackson, who carried out substantial work at the college (Whyte later told The Oxford Mail that he was inspired by Jackson's portrait in Wadham's hall). Whyte came second in his year for his undergraduate degree in 1997 (placing him proxime accessit for the Gibbs Prize in History) and was jointly awarded the University's Arnold Modern History Prize. Whyte then completed a Master of Studies (MSt) degree in 1998, and a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree at the University of Oxford; his doctorate was awarded in 2002 for his thesis entitled "Oxford Jackson: architecture, education, status and style, 1835–1924".
Whyte subsequently became a Tutor and Fellow at St John's College, Oxford, where he is Vice-President and Acting President as of 2018. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) and of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA). In 2014, the University of Oxford awarded him the title of Professor of Social and Architectural History,
Whyte completed the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course in 2003. In 2006, Whyte was ordained into the Anglican church and served as a priest at Kidlington. In 2017, he became an Associate Minister of St Peter's, Wolvercote. He is married to the historian Dr Zoë Waxman, daughter of Denis and Carole Waxman; Zoë is an associate at the University of Oxford's Oriental Institute and is a specialist on gender and genocide, especially women in the Holocaust. Whyte and his wife have two sons.
Whyte's research has focused on the built and natural environments, and how they play into narratives about modern British and European history. He has extensively studied the architecture of schools, universities, and churches. His publications include Oxford Jackson: Architecture, Education, Status, and Style 1835–1924 (Oxford University Press, 2006), Redefining Christian Britain Post-1945 Perspectives (co-authored with Jane Garnett, Matthew Grimley and Alana Harris; SCM Press, 2007), Nationalism and the Reshaping of Urban Communities in Europe, 1848-1914 (co-edited with Olive Zimmer; Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Classes, Cultures, and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin (co-edited with Clare Griffiths and J. J. Nott; Oxford University Press, 2011), The Established Church: Past, Present and Future (co-edited with Mark Chapman; T&T Clark, 2011), Redbrick: A Social and Architectural History of Britain's Civic Universities (Oxford University Press, 2015), and Unlocking the Church: The Lost Secrets of Victorian Sacred Space (Oxford University Press, 2017).
- Crockford's Clerical Directory 2016–17 (London: Church House Publishing, 2016), p. 963.
- William Whyte, Unlocking the Church: The Lost Secrets of Victorian Sacred Space (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. x.
- Oxford Today (University of Oxford, October 2013), p. 35.
- Tim Healey, "Architect of dreaming spires", The Oxford Mail, 25 May 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Notices", University of Oxford Gazette, 13 November 1997. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Notices", University of Oxford Gazette, 25 September 1997. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Elections", University of Oxford Gazette, 2 June 2011 (vol. 141, no. 4955). Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Oxford Jackson: architecture, education, status and style, 1835–1924", EthOS (British Library). Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Reverend Professor William Whyte", St John's College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Recognition of Distinction: Successful applicants 2014", University of Oxford Gazette, no. 5076, 6 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Clergy", St Peter's Wolvercote. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Zoe Waxman", Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Professor William Whyte", University of Oxford. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Professor William Whyte: List of Publications", University of Oxford. Retrieved 23 February 2013.