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OXFORD: WILLIAM FAULKNER

William Faulkner - Oxford, MSI don't like having my private life and affairs available to just any and everyone who has the price of the vehicle it's printed in. William Faulkner, writing to Malcolm Cowley, editor of The Portable Faulkner.

Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner.Around Oxford, they called him "Bill." Around the world, William Faulkner is called one of America's greatest writers, arguably literary history's most examined and studied author after Shakespeare. In 1977, his friend and fan Eudora Welty reviewed the Selected letters of William Faulkner - a volume of private correspondences that Faulkner would not have wanted to see in print. In her New York Times review, Welty observed, No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there.

Faulkner's fiction begins and ends in Oxford, a place that exposed him to former slaves, Old Confederates, alleged ghosts and every other imaginable character that a small town can produce. When he was four, around 1901, the Falkner family moved from New Albany to Oxford, the model for "Jefferson" in his fiction. Oxford's home county, Lafayette, inspired Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County. It is uncertain how Bill Falkner became William Faulkner. Legend decrees that the Nobel Prize winner, when asked about the spelling of his last name, replied: Either way suits me.

  Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner.
Courthouse Square, Oxford.
 
 

Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner

Home of the Falkners, parents of William Faulkner

Courthouse Square

 

I never did like school and stopped going to school as soon as I got big enough to play hooky and not get caught at it, confessed the author of The Sound and the Fury (1929) and The Reivers (1962). One of his teachers, Miss May McGuire, Ole Miss statuary.suspected "Billy's" mother Maud of doing his homework for him. The boy loved to wear costumes, especially military uniforms, and he often paraded the Oxford streets with an old Confederate cap on his head. He was not a natural athlete, but by the eleventh grade, Faulkner reported to school mostly to play football as Oxford's quarterback. In high school, he began to write poetry, the first literary venture that got him noticed as a writer.Magnolia Bloom, Ole Miss campus.

Faulkner's Nobel Prize was awarded him in 1949 and his 1954 novel A Fable won the Pulitzer. The outline for Fable is still penciled on the walls in his study at Rowan Oak, the former "Bailey Place" near Oxford that Faulkner bought in 1930 and renovated into his family home. In 1972 his daughter Jill Faulkner Summers sold the house to The University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") as a place where visitors can learn about her father's work. Today Rowan Oak, like Faulkner's hometown, remains a place of myth and mystery.

Faulkner mesmerized his children, nieces and nephews with ghost stories on the antebellum grounds of Rowan Oak. His niece Dean Faulkner Wells collected the stories of her uncle for her book The Ghosts of Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Ghost Stories for Children. In her afterword to the volume, she recalls, the very walls of Rowan Oak contain the memories of countless magic evenings, of stories told and re-told, the joy and sorrows of many generations. After Faulkner died in July, 1962, his funeral procession moved slowly around the town square of Oxford, where all the shops closed in his honor. He was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery near the heart of a hometown he made world-famous.

  Home with pony near Ole Miss.
Ole Miss, Oxford.
House on Ole Miss campus.
 
 

Home with pony near Ole Miss

Ole Miss

House on Ole Miss campus

 

  
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