William Faulkner: A Life’s Work

Known for As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner is considered one of the greats. Today, let’s take a look at this Nobel-Prize winning authors life.

On September 25th, 1897 William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi to parents Murry and Maud Butler Falkner. At a young age, William’s love of literature was inspired by his mother Maud. Although, his parent’s made great impressions on William, he was entirely raised by his nanny Caroline Barr. Faulkner was very fond of Caroline and spoke highly of her the rest of his life.

William Faulkner was a very intelligent child, however, he was often very bored with school. Due to his increasing boredom with his required curriculum, William Faulkner never actually received his diploma because he dropped out of school. After he dropped out, William began working as a carpenter as well as a bank clerk.

While he worked as a bank clerk, William met a woman by the name of Estelle Oldham. Taken by her, the two began to date. Unfortunately for William, Cornell Franklin proposed to Estelle shortly after they’d started dating. Cornell Franklin was required to relocate to Hawaii as he’d been commissioned as a major for the Hawaiian Territorial Forces. Due to his relocation, Estelle did not take his proposal seriously. However, a few months later Franklin sent Estelle her engagement ring. Estelle’s parents forced her to accept the marriage, leaving William heart broken.

Although William was suffering from a broken heart, life must go on. William eventually found solace in his new mentor Phil Stone, the local attorney. Stone was impressed by Williams poetry and invited him to stay at his home in Connecticut in order to continue pursuing his passion.

In 1918, William Faulkner made the decision to join the British Royal Flying corps. Faulkner had previously tried to enlist in the U.S. Forces, but was rejected because of his height. In order to enlist in the Royal Air Force, Faulkner lied about various aspects of his life in order to appear more British. Including changing his last name from Falkner to Faulkner.

A year later, William enrolled himself into the University of Mississippi. He continued to pursue his writing, working on articles for the newspaper the Mississippian. Unfortunately, school still couldn’t keep Williams attention. After three semesters, he eventually dropped out.

In 1924, William Faulkner caught his big break. Phil Stone had personally escorted a collection of Williams poetry to a publisher. The collection recieved a 1,000 copy run and allowed William to relocate to New Orleans.

In 1929, William Faulkner’s popular book The Sound and Fury was published. This novel was inspired by various people in Williams life, including his great grandfather, William Clark Falkner.  One year later, As I Lay Dying was published.

For many authors, having their novel published is a great joy. For William this was true, unfortunately, he suffered great tragedy shortly after he’d published The Sound and Fury. William was able to marry his old fling Estelle six months after her divorce. In January 1931, Estelle gave birth to a baby girl. Unfortunately, Williams daughter only lived for a week before she passed away.

Despite his tragedy, Williams success continued on. He’d published several notable works that allowed him to receive a screen writing contract through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He helped write the popular film Today We Live, that starred Joan Crawford. Over the years, Faulkner sold the rights to several of his stories and continued to cowrite a wide variety of films. Screenwriting wasn’t something that William did for pleasure, rather he did it for financial gain.

After years of hard work, William Faulkner was awarded one of the most prestigious awards in history. In 1949, William Faulkner received the Nobel Prize in Literature. After being acknowledge for the Nobel Prize, he continued to win more awards.

It was July 6th, 1962 that William Faulkner passed away due to a heart attack. William Faulkner’s legacy continues to live on through his work. He is considered one of the greatest American authors to have lived. Capturing the beauty of Souther life, William Faulkner will forever live on in the hearts of many.