William Faulkner was a prolific writer who became very famous during his lifetime but who shied away from the spotlight as much as possible. He is remembered as both a gentlemanly southern eccentric and an arrogant, snobbish alcoholic. But perhaps the best way to describe Faulkner is to describe his heritage, for, like so many of his literary characters, Faulkner was profoundly affected by his family.
Faulkner's great grandfather, Colonel William Falkner (Faulkner added the "u" to his name), was born in 1825 and moved to Mississippi at the age of 14. He was a lawyer, writer, politician, soldier, and pioneer who was involved in several murder trials including two in which he was accused and was a best-selling novelist. During the Civil War he recruited a (Confederate) regiment and was elected its colonel, but his arrogance caused his troop to demote him and he left to recruit another regiment.
After the war he became involved in the railroad business and made a lot of money; he bought a plantation and began to write books, one of which became a best-seller. He ran for Mississippi state legislature in 1889, but his opponent shot and killed him before the election.
Faulkner's grandfather was the colonel's oldest son, John Wesley Thompson Falkner. He inherited his father's railroad fortune and became an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He later became the president of the First National Bank of Oxford, Mississippi.
Faulkner's father was Murray Falkner, who moved from job to job before becoming the business manager of the University of Mississippi, where he and his family lived for the rest of his life. William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897 and began to write poetry as a teenager. During World War I, he joined the Canadian Royal Flying Corps he was too short to...