William Faulkner

A picture of the author William Faulkner

American writer and Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner (1897 - 1962), born "Falkner" is an iconic figure in American literature, and is especially important to Southern literature. His writing style is often characterized as belonging to the Southern Gothic genre. In addition to the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature he also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice; in 1955 and again in 1963. We feature Faulkner in our collection of Pulitzer Prize Winners.

Faulkner hailed from Lafayette County in north-central Mississippi and spent most of his life there. In addition to novels, plays, and short stories, he also wrote essays, poetry and screenplays. His work had a regional focus and flavor and used Yoknapatawpha County -- a fictional county based upon Lafayette County -- as the setting for most of his work including; The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), A Rose for Emily (1930), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). As I Lay Dying draws from Homer's The Odyssey, Chapter XI: "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades."

Faulker dated Estelle Oldham in high school and aspired to marry her, believing that he would. Estelle, however, dated other boys and when Cornell Franklin, a young man from a well-placed family proposed, her parents insisted that she accept. When that marriage dissolved in April 1929, Faulkner wasted no time and he and Estelle were married in June of 1929.

Faulkner was born as William Cuthbert “Falkner.” He changed the spelling of his name in 1918. Most of his work is still under copyright and not available in the public domain.

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