Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize Recipient. William Faulkner , an American author, received world-wide notoriety after receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he received this coveted award "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel.” He received only one nomination for the Nobel candidacy and it was from Prince Wilhelm, a Swedish and Norwegian prince as well as an author. Attending the 1950 award ceremony, he gave an elegant yet humble acceptance speech. Born William Cuthbert Falkner, his father held different jobs until he was ultimately offered an administrative position at the University of Mississippi, which he held for most of his working life. Faulkner was able to attend classes at the University of Mississippi. He came from a family of some repute in Mississippi. His great-grandfather was Confederate Civil War Colonel William Clark Falkner, who was a well-known figure in the state, an author, and for whom the town of Falkner was named. Colonel Falkner's biggest influence over his descendant, however, was the novels he wrote. Faulkner developed a great understanding of Southern culture which was reflected in his works. The Colonel was also the model for Faulkner's well-known character, Colonel John Sartoris. Many of Faulkner's works focused around the mythical Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, which was very like LaFayette County, his childhood home. He so loved the place that he maintained a home there, Rowan Oak, during his life time and returned there often. During World War I, Faulkner was snubbed by the American Army because of his height of 5' 5½", thus joined the Canadian Army and later the British Army. After the war, he returned to the United States and eventually went to New Orleans where he wrote his first novel "Soldier's Pay,” which was published in 1926. His New Orleans home on Pirate's Alley has become something of a shrine to his literary legacy with a historical plaque. Faulkner in his career ultimately produced more than a dozen novels including "The Sound and the Fury" in 1929, "As I Lay Dying" in 1930, "Light in August" in 1932, "Absalom, Absalom!" in 1936, "Go Down, Moses" in 1942, "Intruder in the Dust" in 1948, and "Flags in the Dust" in 1973, which was the original version of an earlier novel. He also penned many short stories and poems. In the 1930's, he went to Hollywood where he wrote or had a hand in several screenplays. Many of his other writings were eventually made into films. His style gained him critical acclaim, and he went on to become one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. In 1949, he received the Nobel Prize. For his novels, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1955 for “The Fable” and in 1963 posthumously for “The Reivers.” He also received the National Book Award in 1951 and 1955. In the years before his death, he was the Writer in Residence at the University of Virginia. Faulkner married Estelle Oldham in 1929. Their marriage was perhaps not so successful as he carried on affairs including a thirteen-year affair with a young writer, Joan Williams, who was something of a student of his. Another paramour was Meta Carpenter, assistant to film producer Howard Hawks with whom he worked. There are two different stories circulating as to why he changed the spelling of his last name from “Falkner” to “Faulkner.” One has to do with wanting to appear more aristocratic when he went to England, while the other had to do with not correcting an editor's mistake. The real reason remains unknown. There have been dozens of biographies publish about his life.
Bio by: Catharine
Estelle Oldham Faulkner