Study Guide

William Faulkner Timeline

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Sep 25, 1897

William Faulkner Born

William Cuthbert Falkner (you probably know him better with a "U" in his name) is born in New Albany, Mississippi, a town of fewer than 500 residents. He is the eldest of Maud and Murry Falkner's four sons.

Dec 19, 2019

Family Moves to Oxford, Mississippi

The Falkners move to Oxford, Mississippi, where William will spend the majority of his life.

Dec 19, 2019

High School Dropout

William drops out of high school after eleventh grade. He later remarks, "I never did like school and stopped going to school as soon as I got big enough to play hooky and not get caught at it."

Apr 1, 1918

Heartbreak and Exile

Estelle Oldham, William's best friend and childhood sweetheart, marries another man, Cornell Franklin. Twenty-one-year-old William, devastated by their union, begins drinking heavily and relocates to New Haven, Connecticut, where his friend and mentor, Phil Stone, is living.

Jul 1, 1918

Falkner Becomes "Faulkner"

William Faulkner, posing as an Englishman, officially adds a "u" to his last name and joins the Royal Air Force in hopes of fighting in World War I. He reports for training in Toronto, but soon returns to Mississippi after armistice is declared in November 1918, never having seen military action.

Nov 26, 1919

"Landing on Luck"

While studying at Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi), Faulkner's first prose publication—a short story called "Landing on Luck"—appears in The Mississippian.

Dec 1, 1921


Faulkner returns to Oxford, Mississippi, after a brief stint in New York City and takes a job as the postmaster at Ole Miss. He spends his workdays reading and writing (rather than doing his job by handling and sorting mail) and is ultimately fired for his negligence.

Dec 14, 1924

The Marble Faun

With funding from his mentor Phil Stone, Faulkner publishes his first book of poetry, The Marble Faun.

Soldiers' Pay

Soldiers' Pay, Faulkner's first novel, is published. The book generates a positive buzz for the new author.

Jun 20, 1929

Faulkner Marries Estelle Oldham

Faulkner marries his childhood sweetheart, Estelle Oldham, in an impromptu ceremony in his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, just over eleven years after Oldham broke his heart by marrying another man. (Oldham divorced her first husband just months before marrying Faulkner.) Despite their strong feelings for one another, Estelle and William fight often and drink heavily.

Oct 7, 1929

The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner's experimental novel set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, is published, but initially receives little critical attention. Around this time, Faulkner's drinking begins to spiral out of control.

Oct 6, 1930

As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying is published. It only takes Faulkner six weeks to write this one, which will go on to be ranked among the best novels of the twentieth century.

Jan 1, 1931

Birth and Death of Alabama Faulkner

Faulkner's first child, Alabama, is born two months prematurely and dies only nine days after she is born.

Feb 9, 1931

Sanctuary Is A Success

Faulkner publishes Sanctuary, a sensational and racy novel about a kidnapped college coed. The book becomes a bestseller and helps to ease some of the Faulkner family debts.

May 1, 1932

Becomes A Screenwriter

In order to pay the bills, Faulkner begins working with MGM as a part-time screenwriter. For the next thirteen years, Faulkner will frequently to travel to Hollywood to work on screenplays.

Oct 1, 1932

Light in August

Light in August, Faulkner's epic exploration of race in the South, is published.

Jun 24, 1933

Jill Faulkner Born

The Faulkners have a second child, Jill. Although Faulkner later refers to her as his "heart's darling," the father and daughter have a strained relationship, largely due to Faulkner's alcoholism and infidelity.

Nov 10, 1935

Younger Brother Dies

Faulkner's younger brother, Dean, is killed in a plane crash at the age of 28. Faulkner, who blames himself for the accident, is devastated, and the tragedy worsens his drinking problem.

Dec 19, 2019

Affair with Meta Carpenter

Faulkner begins an affair with Meta Carpenter, a secretary he meets in Hollywood. The liaison will last—on and off—for fifteen years.

Oct 1, 1936

Absalom, Absalom!

Absalom, Absalom! , widely thought to be Faulkner's greatest novel, is published.

Jul 1, 1942

Contract with Warner Brothers

Faulkner signs a screenwriting contract, this time with Warner Brothers, but regrets his decision almost immediately. Three years later, he leaves Hollywood, vowing never to return again.

Dec 19, 2019

The Portable Faulkner Leads to Fame

With the help of editor Malcolm Cowley, The Portable Faulkner is published. A collection of excerpts from Faulkner's major works, the book helps propel the heretofore-unnoticed author into literary fame.

Dec 19, 2019

Nobel Prize

Faulkner receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. He and daughter Jill travel to Stockholm to accept the award.

Dec 19, 2019

Affair with Joan Williams

Faulkner, now more than 50 years old, meets Joan Williams, a student and aspiring writer at Bard College, and begins another affair. When Estelle discovers her husband's relationship with Williams (who is only a few years older than their daughter, Jill), she is furious.

Dec 19, 2019

Pulitzer and National Book Award for A Fable

Faulkner receives the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award for his novel, A Fable.

Dec 19, 2019

Faulkner at UVa

Faulkner accepts a position as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia.

Jul 6, 1962

Death of William Faulkner

William Faulkner dies of a heart attack at the age of 64, only a month after publishing his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Reivers.

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