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General information  

  • Real name : William Cuthbert Faulkner
  • Place of birth : New Albany
  • Date of birth : 25/09/1897
  • Place of death : Mississippi
  • Date of death : 25/09/1897

Alias  

  • Faulkner William

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William Faulkner (1897)

William Cuthbert Faulkner

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  Summary  

William Cuthbert Faulkner (born Falkner, September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was an American writer and nobel prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career. He is primarily known and acclaimed for his novels and short stories, many of which are set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, a setting Faulkner created based on Lafayette County, where he spent most of his childhood.

Faulkner is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States, along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams. Though his work was published as early as 1919, and largely during the 1920s and 1930s, Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of his works, A Fable and his last novel The Reivers , both won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked his 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury sixth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century; also on the list were 1930's As I Lay Dying and Light in August .

  Biography  

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19, 1960). He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles "Jack" Falkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Faulkner (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Faulkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).

Faulkner was born and raised in, and heavily influenced by, his home state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the American South altogether. Only four days prior to his fifth birthday, the Faulkner family settled in Oxford, Mississippi on September 21, 1902, where he resided on and off for the remainder of his life.

Family, particularly his mother Maud, his maternal grandmother Lelia Butler, and Caroline Barr crucially influenced the development of his artistic imagination: both his mother and grandmother were great readers and also painters and photographers, educating him in visual language. His life-long education by Callie Barr is central to his novels' preoccupations with the politics of sexuality and race. In adolescence, Faulkner began writing poetry almost exclusively. He did not write his first novel until 1925. His literary influences are deep and wide. He once stated that he modeled his early writing on the Romantic era in late 18th century and early 19th century England. He attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1919, and attended three semesters before dropping out in November 1920.

The younger Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Black and White Americans, his characterization of Southern characters, and his timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army due to his height (he was 5' 5½"), Faulkner enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps, later training at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, yet never experienced wartime action during the First World War.

In 1918, upon enlisting in the RFC, Faulkner himself made the change to his surname from the original "Falkner." However, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted a change. He supposedly replied, "Either way suits me." Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was residing in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, after being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson to attempt fiction writing. The miniature house at 624 Pirate's Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society.

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville from February to June 1957 and again in 1958. He suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident in 1959, and died from a myocardial infarction, aged 64, on July 6, 1962, at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi. He is buried along with his family in St. Peter's Cemetery in Oxford, along with a family friend with the mysterious initials E.T.

 In California


In the early 1940s, Howard Hawks invited Faulkner to come to Hollywood to become a screenwriter for the films Hawks was directing. Faulkner happily accepted because he badly needed the money, and Hollywood paid well. Thus Faulkner contributed to the scripts for the films Hawks made from Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. Faulkner became good friends with Hawks, the screenwriter A. I. Bezzerides, and the actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

An apocryphal story regarding Faulkner during his Hollywood years found him with a case of writer's block at the studio. He told Hawks he was having a hard time concentrating and would like to write at home. Hawks was agreeable, and Faulkner left. Several days passed, with no word from the writer. Hawks telephoned Faulkner's hotel and found that Faulkner had checked out several days earlier. It seems Faulkner had spoken quite literally, and had returned home to Mississippi to finish the screenplay.

 Personal life
As a teenager in Oxford, Faulkner dated Estelle Oldham, the popular daughter of Major Lemuel and Lida Oldham, and believed he would some day marry her. However, Estelle dated other boys during their romance, and one of them, Cornell Franklin, ended up proposing marriage to her before Faulkner did, in 1918. Estelle's parents insisted she marry Cornell, as he was an Ole Miss law graduate, had recently been commissioned as a major in the Hawaiian Territorial Forces, and came from a respectable family with which they were old friends. Fortunately for Faulkner, Estelle's marriage to Franklin fell apart ten years later, and she was divorced in April 1929. Faulkner married Estelle in June 1929 at College Hill Presbyterian Church just outside of Oxford, Mississippi. They honeymooned on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Pascagoula, then returned to Oxford, first living with relatives while they searched for a home of their own to purchase. In 1930 Faulkner purchased the antebellum home Rowan Oak, known at that time as "The Shegog Place" from Irish planter Robert Shegog. He and his daughter, Jill, lived at Rowan Oak until after her mother's death. The property was sold to the University of Mississippi in 1972. The house and furnishings are maintained much as they were in Faulkner's day. Faulkner's scribblings are still preserved on the wall there, including the day-by-day outline covering an entire week that he wrote out on the walls of his small study to help him keep track of the plot twists in the novel A Fable.

The quality and quantity of Faulkner's literary output were achieved despite a lifelong drinking problem. Since he rarely drank while writing, instead preferring to binge after a project's completion, it is generally agreed that his alcohol use was an escape from the pressures of everyday life and unrelated to his creativity. Whatever the source of his addiction, it undoubtedly weakened his health.

Faulkner is known to have had several extramarital affairs. One was with Howard Hawks's secretary and script girl, Meta Carpenter. Another, from 1949–53, was with a young writer, Joan Williams, who made her relationship with Faulkner the subject of her 1971 novel, The Wintering.

When Faulkner visited Stockholm in December 1950 to receive the Nobel Prize, he met Else Jonsson (1912–1996) and they had an affair that lasted until the end of 1953. Else was the widow of journalist Thorsten Jonsson (1910–1950), reporter for Dagens Nyheter in New York 1943–1946, who had interviewed Faulkner in 1946 and introduced his works to the Swedish readers. At the banquet in 1950 where they met, publisher Tor Bonnier referred to Else as widow of the man responsible for Faulkner being awarded the prize.

Faulkner also had a romance with Jean Stein, an editor, author, and daughter of movie mogul Jules Stein.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "William Faulkner", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.