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William Faulkner

William Faulkner was a Nobel and multi-Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer of The Sound and the Fury, Intruder in the Dust, The Reivers, Big Woods, The Wild Palms, and As I Lay Dying.

Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: William Cuthbert Falkner*

Date, time and place of birth: September 25, 1897, New Albany, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Date, time, place and cause of death: July 6, 1962, at 1:30 a.m., Wright's Sanitarium, Byhalia, Mississippi, U.S.A.** (Heart attack)

Spouse: Estelle Oldham Franklin (m. June 20, 1929 - July 6, 1962) (his death)
Wedding took place at the College Hill Presbyterian Church, College Hill Road (County Road 102), Oxford, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Daughters: Alabama (b. January 11, 1931 - d. January 20, 1931)
Jill (b. June 24, 1933)

Brother: Murry "Jack" Charles Falkner, Jr. (b. June 26, 1899 - December 24, 1975) (FBI agent)
Brother: John "Johncy" Wesley Thompson Falkner III (b. September 24, 1901 - d. March 28, 1963) (also a writer)
Brother: Dean Swift Falkner (b. August 15, 1907 - d. November 10, 1935, Pontotoc, Mississippi, in a plane crash)

Father: Murry Cuthbert Falkner (b. August 17, 1870 - d. August 7, 1932, of a heart ailment)
Mother: Maud Butler Falkner (b. November 27, 1871 - d. October 16, 1960, of a cerebral hemorrhage)

Burial site: St. Peter's Cemetery, Oxford, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Error corrections or clarifications

* He was not born "William Faulkner" as a few sources report. He was born "William Cuthbert Falkner" then later added the "u" to his last name as an adult.

** Faulkner did not die in Oxford, Mississippi as most sources erroneously state. Oxford certainly is where he lived and spent most of his life, but he died more than 60 miles away at Wright's Sanitarium, in Byhalia, Mississippi.

All of the following publications, in some past editions, have offered an erroneous place of death for William Faulkner.

Americana Encyclopedia Annual

Britannica Book of the Year 1963

Collier's Encyclopedia

Compton's Encyclopedia

Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia Yearbook 1962

Obituaries from The Times 1961-1970

It is not our intent to denigrate these fine publications, but merely to point out the above inaccuracy to prevent further dissemination of the erroneous data.

Residences -- Hobbies

Hunting, farming, aviation/flying, sailing, raising, riding and training horses.

Nicknames: Billy, the Count, Count No 'Count

Residences of William Faulkner:
Note that some of these residences may no longer exist, and it's also possible the addresses have changed over the years. This is not to suggest that William Faulkner owned each and every one of these structures. We're only reporting the fact that he resided in them at one point or another in his life.

624 Pirate's Alley, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
640 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
620 El Cerco, Pacific Palisades (near Santa Monica), California, U.S.A.
9 East Sixty-third Street, New York, New York, U.S.A.
917 Rugby Road, Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.A.
Rowan Oak, Old Taylor Road, Oxford, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Quotes - In his own words

In a letter to Robert K. Haas -- 1938:
"I have lived for the last six months in such a peculiar state of family complications and back complications that I still am not able to tell if the novel [The Wild Palms] is all right or absolute drivel. To me, it was written just as if I had sat on the one side of a wall and the paper was on the other and my hand with the pen thrust through the wall and writing not only on invisible paper but in pitch darkness, too, so that I could not even know if the pen wrote on paper or not."

In a letter to Robert K. Haas -- 1940:
"But I can still write. That is, I haven't said at 42 all that is in the cards for me to say. And that wont [sic] do any good either, but surely it is still possible to scratch the face of the supreme Obliteration and leave a decipherable scar of some sort."

In a letter to his agent, Harold Ober -- June 22, 1942:
"I have been trying for about ten years to carry a load that no artist has any business attempting: oldest son to widowed mothers and inept brothers and nephews and wives and other female connections and their children, most of whom I dont [sic] like and with none of whom I have anything in common, even to make conversation about. I am either not brave enough or not scoundrel enough to take my hat and walk out: I dont [sic] know which. But if it's really beginning to hurt my work, I will choose pretty damn quick. I dont think that yet; it is only my earning capacity which is dulled; possibly because I have too little fun. But if I can get some money, I can get away for a while--either in service, or out of it. Incidentally, I believe I have discovered the reason inherent in human nature why warfare will never be abolished: it's the only condition under which a man who is not a scoundrel can escape for a while from his female kin."

Homesick while working in Hollywood -- 1943:
"I too like my town, my land, my people, my life, am unhappy away from it even though I must quit it to earn money to keep it going to come back to."

In a letter to Malcolm Cowley -- 1945:
"I'll write to Hemingway. Poor bloke, to have to marry three times to find out that marriage is a failure, and the only way to get any peace out of it is (if you are fool enough to marry at all) keep the first one and stay as far away from her as much as you can, with the hope of some day outliving her. At least you will be safe then from any other one marrying you--which is bound to happen if you ever divorce her. Apparently man can be cured of drugs, drink, gambling, biting his nails and picking his nose, but not of marrying."

In a letter to Jack Warner -- 1945:
"I feel that I have made a bust at moving picture writing and therefore have mis-spent and will continue to mis-spend time which at my age I cannot afford. During my three years (including leave-suspensions) at Warner's, I did the best work I knew on 5 or 6 scripts. Only two were made and I feel that I received credit on these not on the value of the work I did but partly through the friendship of Director Howard Hawks. For that reason, I am unhappy in studio work. Not at Warner's studio; my connection with the studio and all the people I worked with could not have been pleasanter. But with the type of work. So I repeat the request this time not so much to the head of the studio, as to that same fairness which you have shown before in such situations, two of which I have specific knowledge of since friends of mine were involved. So I know my request will receive fair consideration, and I hope favorable."

In a letter to Joan Williams -- April 29, 1953:
". . . And now I realise for the first time what an amazing gift I had: uneducated in every formal sense, without even very literate, let alone literary, companions, yet to have made the things I made. I dont [sic] know where it came from. I dont [sic] know why God or gods or whoever it was, selected me to be the vessel. Believe me, this is not humility, false modesty: it is simply amazement."

"To live anywhere in the world of A.D. 1955 and be against equality because of race or color, is like living in Alaska and being against snow."

"I think if the Negro himself has enough sense, tolerance, wisdom, to be still for a short time, there will be complete equality in America."

"He [Richard Wright] wrote one good book and then he went astray, he got too concerned in the difference between the Negro man and the white man and he stopped being a writer and became a Negro." "Another one named Ellison has talent, and so far, he has managed to stay away from being first a Negro, he is still first a writer."

"An artist is a creature driven by demons."

"I am not a literary man but only a writer. I don't get any pleasure from talking shop."

In a letter to Muna Lee -- 1961:
"As I get older, I get more and more frightened of aeroplanes. But I reckon I have to fly, not?"

In a letter to Muna Lee -- 1961:
"Even while I was still writing, I was merely a writer and never at all a literary man; since I ran dry three years ago, I am not even interested in writing anymore: only in reading for pleasure . . ."


The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile, was the 1989 biography, William Faulkner: American Writer, by Dr. Frederick R. Karl.

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