By Talbert Toole
Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner would’ve celebrated his 121st birthday today. Faulkner, known for his fictional depiction of Yoknapatawpha County in his novels, was born Sept. 25, 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi.
Previous to becoming the world renowned author of books “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying”, Faulkner attended The University of Mississippi in 1919. Before deciding to withdraw from the university after three semesters, Faulkner wrote for what was formerly known as the Mississippian—the student newspaper.
After his short tenure at the university, Faulkner made his way to New York City where he worked as a bookseller’s assistant for a short stint. Upon leaving his job, Faulkner returned to Oxford where he worked as the university’s postmaster.
Faulkner eventually dove into the art of storytelling with creations of fictional characters depicted from real people who surrounded him during his upbringing.
Faulkner reached a breakthrough in his career when he published his novel “Sanctuary” which tells the fictional story of an Ole Miss girl who faces sexual assault. The controversial character situation shocked and appalled readers, according to Biography.com, but led Faulkner to release a sequel, “Requiem for a Nun”, years later.
Before passing away in July 1962, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949.
Faulkner’s Final Resting Place
Faulkner’s grave is located adjacent from the north side of The Square on North 16th Street in St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Literature enthusiasts, visitors and LOU community members traditionally leave whiskey bottles and coins on his grave. Leaving whiskey bottles, especially Faulkner’s favorite for social drinking whiskey—Jack Daniels—shows a sign of respect for the legendary author, according to some.
Historic Rowan Oak
Surrounded by oak trees and nestled off of Old Taylor Road, Rowan Oak became Faulkner’s home in 1930.
The house was originally built in 1844 and acquired by Faulkner in 1930. Six years after Faulkner passed away in 1962, the grounds were named a National Historic Landmark.
Many LOU residents visit the prestigious grounds for studying, photographs, picnics weddings, etc.
Recently, the house was named in Architectural Digest’s “14 Famous Authors’ Houses Worth Seeing.”
Open year round from dusk to dawn, visitors can explore the property free of charge. There is, however, a $5 admission fee to tour the house.
Additional hours and admission information can be viewed here.