Faulkner’s Family and Friends

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Great Authors: William Faulkner

William Faulkner, revered modernist writer, historian and sociologist, is known for capturing the raw beauty of the rural South in all its dark complexity. While his sprawling verse and habit of knotting together past, present and future has overwhelmed some critics, others have responded to the demands of his writing.

Faulkner’s Early Life

William Cuthbert Falkner (he later added the “u”) was the oldest of four boys born in ... read more »

Faulkner’s Writing and His Impact

In New Orleans, Faulkner met Sherwood Anderson, a writer who would become his friend and mentor. He ... read more »

Faulkner’s Inspiration

In “Go Down, Moses,” published in 1942, Faulkner isolated the precise moment when a ... read more »

Faulkner’s Family and Friends

Estelle Oldham divorced her first husband and married Faulkner only months later in 1929. But their marriage was far from happy: she tried to kill herself during their honeymoon. Like him, she had an alcohol problem.

The early 1930s were challenging years for Faulkner. In 1931, Estelle gave birth to a baby girl who only lived for a few days. In 1933 she gave birth to a second daughter, Jill. A year and a half later, Faulkner’s brother was killed in a flying accident.

Desperate for income, Faulkner began traveling to Hollywood to take on screenwriting projects between 1932 and 1945. While there, he was introduced to Clark Gable in a famous exchange where Faulkner chided Gable for not recognizing him as a writer. He also carried on several affairs during his marriage, including a long relationship with Meta Carpenter, an assistant to his friend, movie director Howard Hawks.

Faulkner had three brothers. One of them, John Falkner, also became a writer. Another brother joined the FBI and took part in the murder of John Dillinger, a famous bank robber, in Chicago in 1934. His third brother, Dean, an aviator, was killed in a flying accident. Faulkner took care of his brother’s widow and her daughter, adding to his financial burden.

His relationship with his father was inconstant, and according to one author, he sought out other “father-substitutes.” Doreen Fowler wrote in “Faulkner: The Return of the Repressed” that his relationships with Phil Stone and Sherwood Anderson fulfilled this need. Though both men admired and supported his work, ”Faulkner simultaneously welcomed and resented this fatherly presence.”

However, even when they weren’t speaking, he helped Stone through financial difficulties and reportedly called Anderson “the father of all my generation.”
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Faulkner’s Death and Posthumous Fame

Faulkner died on July 6, 1962, of a heart attack at Wright’s Sanitarium in Byhalia, Miss. The ... read more »

Understanding Faulkner’s Work

Readers of Faulkner rely on emotional instincts to embrace and unravel the ambiguities woven into ... read more »

Fans of Faulkner

The William Faulkner Society presents information on conferences, panel discussions and proposal ... read more »

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