William Faulkner

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William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, as the oldest of four sons of Murray Charles Faulkner and Maud (Butler) Faulkner. While he was still a child, the family settled in Oxford in north-central Mississippi. Faulkner lived most of his life in the town. About the age of 13, he began to write poetry. At the Oxford High School he played quarterback on football team and suffered a broken nose. Before graduating he dropped out school and worked briefly in his grandfather's bank. After being rejected from the army because he was too short, Faulkner enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had basic training in Toronto. He served with the RAF in World War I, but did not see any action. The war was over before he could make his first solo flight. This did not stop him later telling that he was shot down in France. After the war he studied literature at the University of Mississippi for a short time. He also wrote some poems and drew cartoons for the university's humor magazine, The Scream. "I liked the cartoons better than the poetry," recalled later George W. Healy Jr., who edited the magazine. In 1920 Faulkner left the university without taking a degree. Years later he wrote in a letter, "what an amazing gift I had: uneducated in every formal sense, without even very literate, let alone literary, companions, yet to have made the things I made." Faulkner moved to New York City, where he worked as a clerk in a bookstore. Then he returned to Oxford where he supported himself as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi. Faulkner was fired for reading on the job. He drifted to New Orleans, where Sherwood Anderson encouraged him to write fiction rather than poetry. The early works of Faulkner bear witness to his reading of Keats, Tennyson, Swinburne, and the fin-de-siècle English poetry. His first book, THE MARBLE FAUN, a collection of poems, appeared in 1924. It did not gain success. After spending some time in Paris, he published SOLDIER'S PAY (1926). The novel centered on the return of a soldier, who has been physically and psychologically disabled in WW I. It was followed by MOSQUITOES, a satirical portrait of Bohemian life, artist and intellectuals, in New Orleans. In 1929 Faulkner wrote Sartoris, the first of fifteen novels set in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional region of Mississippi - actually Yoknapatawpha was Lafayette County.

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