- 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.
William Faulkner - Mini Bio (3:53)
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A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, William Faulkner was the poet-novelist of Mississippi. His novels "The Sound and the Fury," "As I Lay Dying," and "Light in August" all reflect the history and culture of the American South.
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He developed a great many colorful characters based on real people he had grown up with or heard about, including his great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner. For his famous novel, The Sound and the Fury, he developed the fictional Yoknapatawpha County—a place nearly identical to Lafayette County, in which Oxford, Mississippi, is located. A year later, in 1930, Faulkner released As I Lay Dying.
Faulkner became known for his faithful and accurate dictation of Southern speech. He also boldly illuminated social issues that many Americans writers left in the dark, including slavery, the good old boys club, and Southern aristocracy. In 1931, after much deliberation, Faulkner decided to publish Sanctuary, a story that focused on the rape and kidnapping of a young woman at Ole Miss. It shocked and appalled some readers, but it was a commercial success and a critical breakthrough for his career.
Personally, Faulkner experienced both elation and soul-shocking sadness during this time in his career. Between the publishing of The Sound and the Fury and Sanctuary, his old flame Estelle Oldham divorced Cornell Franklin. Still deeply in love with her, Faulkner promptly made his feelings known and the two were married within six months. Estelle became pregnant, and in January of 1931, she gave birth to a daughter. They named her Alabama. Tragically, the premature baby lived for just a few days. Faulkner’s collection of short stories, titled These 13, is dedicated to “Estelle and Alabama.”
Faulkner’s next novel, Light in August (1932) tells the story of Yoknapatawpha County outcasts. In it, he introduces his readers to Joe Christmas, a man of uncertain racial makeup; Joanna Burden, a woman who supports voting rights for blacks and later is killed in the town square; Lena Grove, an alert and determined young woman in search of her baby’s father; and Rev. Gail Hightower, a man who eventually commits suicide. Time magazine listed it on their 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
After publishing several notable books, Faulkner turned to screenwriting. He started with a six-weeks contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and co-write Today We Live. After Faulkner’s father died, and in need of money, he decided to sell the rights to film Sanctuary, later titled The Story of Temple Drake (1933). That same year, Estelle gave birth to Jill, the couple’s only surviving child. Between 1932 and 1945, Faulkner traveled to Hollywood a dozen times to toil as a scriptwriter. Uninspired by the task, he did it purely for financial gain.
In January 1961, he willed all his major manuscripts and many of his personal papers to the William Faulkner Foundation at the University of Virginia. On July 6, 1962, coincidently the same date as the Old Colonel’s birthday, William Faulkner died of a heart attack. He remains a revered writer of the rural American South, having expertly captured the immense complexities of both the region’s beauty and dark past.
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