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William Faulkner's Biography

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Who was William Faulkner?

William Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Falkner (sic) on 25 September 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi.

When he was five, the Faulkner family moved to Oxford, Mississippi. William Faulkner became a pilot for the Canadian Flying Corps in World War I (he crashed twice) and then attended Mississippi University.

In 1929, whilst working as a coal-heaver he wrote As I Lay Dying, which was published a year later. It reportedly took Faulkner just six weeks to write.

Other important works followed, including Sanctuary (1931), Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and Intruder in the Dust (1948).

Tennessee Williams wrote a letter to Josephine Winslow Johnson on May, 17 1935 in which he said:

"Recently visited William Faulkner's home. In his home-town they call him 'The Count' because he's so stuck up. Seldom recognizes anyone on the street. But I think he's just absent-minded, like me and most other great writers. He's now conducting an air-circus. Does stunts in his airplane with a negro parachute-jumper every Sunday afternoon. So everyone in Mississippi thinks he's crazy ..."

The editors of the Oberon Books volume of letters by Tennessee Williams added a footnote:

"At the time of TW's visit to Oxford, Mississippi, "The Count" William Faulkner was less an "absent-minded" genius than a beleaguered husband saddled with debt and writing his own "head off" to pay the bills."

In 1949 William Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the Presentation Speech on December 10, 1950, Gustaf Hellström, Member of the Swedish Academy said:

"Faulkner is the great epic writer of the southern states with all their background: a glorious past built upon cheap Negro slave labour; a civil war and a defeat which destroyed the economic basis necessary for the then existing social structure; a long drawn-out and painful interim of resentment; and, finally, an industrial and commercial future whose mechanization and standardization of life are strange and hostile to the Southerner and to which he has only gradually been able and willing to adapt himself Faulkner's novels are a continuous and ever-deepening description of this painful process, which he knows intimately and feels intensely, coming as he does from a family which was forced to swallow the bitter fruits of defeat right down to their worm-eaten cores: impoverishment, decay, degeneration in its many varied forms."

The Reivers was William Faulkner's last novel. It was published in June 1962, just before his death, and posthumously won Faulkner his second Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

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