William Herrick, novelist, onetime revolutionary, disenchanted communist and longtime Aquinnah seasonal resident, died Saturday of congestive heart failure at his home in Old Chatham, N.Y. He was 89. At the age of 21, Mr. Herrick's belief in the Communist fight against fascism led him to enlist in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War and that war became the subject of many of his novels.

He was born in Trenton, N.J., Jan. 10, 1916, a son of Mary (Saperstein) Horvitz and Nathan Horvitz, immigrants from Bylorussia. His father died when he was very young and he and his brother and sister were brought up by their ardently communist mother. The family name was changed to Herrick during the Depression when William's older brother, Harry, an accountant, applied for a job with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Although he ranked highest in the examination for the job, he was turned down on the basis of his name and - needing work desperately at that time - changed his own name to the Anglo-Saxon Herrick so he would be hired. He talked his brother and sister into changing theirs, as well, believing it was wise for their futures.

Mr. Herrick attended elementary school in Trenton and was graduated from the Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn in 1932. Instead of attending college, he decided to make his way, however he could, sometimes by hitchhiking, sometimes by riding the rails, across the United States. By the time he reached Cleveland, he had run out of money, but relatives there found a job for him driving a tractor on a beet farm. As his cross-country journey continued, he worked for a time in Florida at a Miami Beach hotel and took time off to help a fellow communist organize sharecroppers in a southern Georgia community. He narrowly escaped being killed there by the Ku Klux Klan, who drove him out of town. But that did not affect his eagerness to help organize for the Furriers Union when he returned to New York.

In 1936, dreaming that communism could create a more equal economic society and distraught at the rise of fascist rebels in Spain, he volunteered for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of American radicals fighting with the Republican government against the fascist forces of Franco. A few months after his enlistment, he was seriously wounded and returned home where he again went to work for the communist-led Furriers Union. But he had already, while he was abroad, begun to lose faith in communism. He had learned that the communists were bullying and murdering many on the left whom they felt were not Stalinists. Idealistic young Americans were among those being killed.

Mr. Herrick's disaffection with the party led to his ouster from the Furriers Union in 1939, when, at the time of the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact, he marched in front of union headquarters carrying a banner saying "Betrayal."

The Communist Party did, however, pay for his studies to be a court reporter and in the 1940s and 1950s it was court reporting that provided his livelihood. He worked for a while as a freelance court reporter; then as the official court reporter for the U.S. District Court in the Southern District in New York. There, he helped organize the Federation of Shorthand Reporters and became its president. He married a fellow court reporter, Jeannette Wellin. He also, in this period, worked as a secretary to the late writer-director Orson Welles, whose idiosyncrasies he both wrote about and talked about with amused astonishment.

Dreamed of Writing

But he had always longed to become a writer, and, after dinner each night, he would retire to his typewriter in a third-floor office. Although he was 41 before he began to write, and it took him 10 years to have his first novel, The Itinerant, based on his own life, published, he wrote 11 books and was at work on a twelfth when he died. Above his desk was a picture of George Orwell who, like Mr. Herrick, had fought in the Spanish Civil War and had written about it. "He's the only one I let read over my shoulder," Mr. Herrick, a great admirer of Orwell (to whom he was sometimes compared) would quip.

His work for the court gave him a lengthy summer vacation, and in 1959, the Herricks first came to the Vineyard to visit friends in West Tisbury. They soon were West Tisbury renters, but when they learned of a house available on Lighthouse road in Gay Head, they bought it. A year later, they bought land on the old Ox Cart road near the water and asked Herbert R. Hancock to build a house for them on it.

It was in a shack they moved to the property from their first house that Mr. Herrick worked on his books every day. Among these were three novels on political terrorism - Shadows and Wolves, with a Spanish Civil War setting; Kill Memory, concerned both with the Spanish war and a Nazi concentration camp; and Love and Terror, about the Olympic massacre in Munich at which Israeli athletes were killed. Mr. Herrick also wrote a personal memoir, Jumping the Line: The Adventures and Misadventures of an American Radical. One of his most widely acclaimed books was Hermanos, a war novel which friend and fellow writer William Kennedy called "spectacular."

There were also outings to the ocean beach behind the Rainbow House on Moshup's Trail on sunny days. While their three children enjoyed the surf, Bill and Jeannette Herrick would have political discussions with fellow Gay Head seasonal visitors Mike and Gloria Levitas; Stanley and Joan Halperin, and Dr. Mel Glimsher. Or they would talk of Jeannette's work as a painter and sculptor; early on in their marriage, in addition to court reporting, she had begun painting and sculpting and soon had embarked on a successful career in art.

Good Times in Aquinnah

There were happy cookouts and clambakes on the beach in front of their house with neighbors Larry and Rose Treat; Hugh and Jean Taylor, and Kurt and Ann Pfluger. Singer Carly Simon and her husband, Jim Hart, were also among their friends and once, at a Carly Simon party, Mr. Herrick met Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He longed to dance with her but hadn't the courage to ask, his wife recalls.

Sometimes, of an afternoon, he and his wife would head for the Aquinnah Restaurant for coffee and conversation with owners Anne Vanderhoop and Luther Madison. The Herricks' daughter, Lisa, was an employee there. Although the Herricks voted at their winter address, they were deeply concerned about the political controversies in Aquinnah and the problems of their Wampanoag neighbors.

There were other, quieter moments, when, puffing on a cigar, Mr. Herrick would simply watch the waves and the beach grass blowing in the wind below the family deck. Last week, when he was failing, his wife, seeking to soothe him, recalled for him the waves and the grass of Aquinnah.

"Enough already about the waves and the grass," were his last words to her.

Friends describe Mr. Herrick as an "earthy, hard, tough guy," but also as a great humanist who felt betrayed by the movements and individuals important to him and who spent much of his life writing about that betrayal.

He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years; by three children, Lisa of Washington, D.C.; Michael of Red Hook, N.Y., and Jonathan Goodman-Herrick of Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y., and by four grandchildren, Anna, Sarah, Lea and Nicholas. He was predeceased by his brother Harry and his sister Natalie Kriegstein.

A memorial service will be held Feb. 28 at the Jewish Center in the Wesleyan Church in Malden Bridge, N.Y., where two of his caregivers in his final illness, Doreen and Herbert Sheldon of Chatham, N.Y., will be among those paying homage to him in word and song.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Tri-Village Fire Department in Old Chatham, N.Y. 12136, whose members frequently were called upon to assist him in medical emergencies and who responded with warmth and alacrity.