- NAME: William Faulkner
- OCCUPATION: Author
- BIRTH DATE: September 25, 1897
- DEATH DATE: July 06, 1962
- EDUCATION: University of Mississippi
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New Albany, Mississippi
- PLACE OF DEATH: Byhalia, Mississippi
- Full Name: William Cuthbert Faulkner
- AKA: William Faulkner
- Originally: William Cuthbert Falkner
- AKA: William Falkner
Best Known For
William Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning novelist of the American South, who wrote challenging prose and created the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. He is known for novels like Sartoris.
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American writer William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897. Much of his early work was poetry, but he became famous for his novels set in the American South, frequently in his fabricated Yoknapatawpha County, including Sartoris. In 1933, his controversial novel Sanctuary was turned into a Hollywood film. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature before his death in 1962.
"It's a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can't eat for eight hours; he can't drink for eight hours; he can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work."
"Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other."
"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."
A Southern writer through and through, William Cuthbert Falkner (the original spelling of his last name) was born in the small town of New Albany, Mississippi, on September 25, 1897. His parents, Murry Falkner and Maud Butler Faulkner, named him after his paternal great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, an adventurous and shrewd man who seven years prior was shot dead in the town square of Ripley, Mississippi. Throughout his life, William Clark Falkner worked as a railroad financier, politician, soldier, farmer, businessman, lawyer and—in his twilight years—best-selling author (The White Rose of Memphis).
The grandeur of the “Old Colonel,” as almost everyone called him, loomed large in the minds of William Clark Falkner's children and grandchildren. The Old Colonel’s son, John Wesley Thompson, opened the First National Bank of Oxford in 1910. Instead of later bequeathing the railroad business to his son, Murry, however, Thompson sold it. Murry worked as the business manager for the University of Mississippi. Murry’s son, author William Falkner, held tightly to his great grandfather’s legacy, writing about him in his earliest novels set in the American South.
As much as the older men in Faulkner’s family made an impression on him, so did the women. Faulkner’s mother, Maud, and grandmother, Lelia Butler, were voracious readers, as well as fine painters and photographers. They taught him the beauty of line and color. Faulkner’s “mammy,” as he called her, was a black woman named Caroline Barr. She raised him from birth until the day he left home and was fundamental to his development. At her wake, Faulkner told the mourning crowd that it was a privilege to see her out, that she had taught him right from wrong and was loyal to his family despite having borne none of them. In later documents, Faulkner points to Barr as the impetuous for his fascination with the politics of sexuality and race.
As a teenager, Faulkner was taken by drawing. He also greatly enjoyed reading and writing poetry. In fact, by the age of twelve, he began intentionally mimicking the English romantics, specifically Robert Burns, A.E. Housman and A.C. Swinburne. Despite his remarkable intelligence, or perhaps because of it, school bored him. He never earned a high school diploma. After dropping out, he worked in carpentry and sporadically as a clerk at his grandfather’s bank.
During this time, Faulkner met Estelle Oldham. At the time of their meeting, she was both popular and exceedingly effervescent. She immediately stole his heart. The two dated for a while, but another man named Cornell Franklin proposed to her before Faulker did.
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