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Rowan Oak ~ Home of Published Author William Faulkner in Oxford, MS
Oxford, Mississippi is not only the home to the University of Mississippi but also hosts the site of the famous published author William Faulkner's residence titled Rowen Oak. The two sites are now interlinked by not only proximity but also ownership.
My mother, niece and I made that discovery some twenty years ago while traveling. We had stopped in Oxford, Mississippi for a few days to visit my mother's dear friend dating back to their high school days. The friendships had been maintained ever since and as husbands and then children had been added to each family, each honorary "aunt and uncle" had even become godparents to one child from each family. My youngest brother (my niece's father) had been the godchild to Aunt Lois and Uncle Jim.
Thus we were in for a few fun days of visiting, sightseeing and much laughter which was always a component of getting together with these dear folks.
While touring the town of Oxford, Mississippi one day my aunt thought that we might like to see Rowan Oak which was the home of the famous author William Faulkner for several decades. It is quite a site!
In 1968 Rowan Oak became a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi / William Faulkner Home
This sprawling plantation type home which was built in the primitive Greek Revival style in the 1840s by Robert Sheegog was purchased by William Faulkner in the 1930s.
It was not in the best of shape and necessitated renovations over the years, but the 32 acres of land afforded this famous author much space and privacy in which to craft his art...that of authoring novels, short stories and even screenplays for the movies. Faulkner lived there until his death in 1962.
Spend 8 minutes to see interior views as well as exterior views of the grounds surrounding Rowan Oak
William Faulkner named his home after a mythical rowan oak tree which supposedly would ward off malicious spirits also providing safety, protection, peace and refuge to occupants. It is a nice legend.
The four acres of grounds that are landscaped as well as the remaining ones left in a natural wooded state are magnificent! Originally called Bailey's Woods, William Faulkner played in this wooded area as a boy and had come to love it.
Inside of William Faulkner's study written in graphite and red on the plastered walls is an outline of one of his Pulitzer prize winning novels titled A Fable. This was completed in 1954 and the Pulitzer prize was awarded in 1955.
He would be awarded another Pulitzer prize posthumously in 1963 for The Reivers (1962).
Using the walls was not a usual writing practice.
The old Underwood typewriter still sits atop Faulkner's desk where he normally typed his novels and short stories after composing them with notations made on paper. However it makes for an interesting and unique eye catching artistic touch to the walls of the study and certainly a conversation piece! Did he run out of paper that particular day?
Some other books (novels) written by William Faulkner are the following just to give the reader a sampling of his works:
- The Sound and the Fury published in 1929
- Absalom, Absalom published in 1936
- As I Lay Dying published in 1930
- Light in August published in 1932
Much of what William Faulkner chose to make as subject matter for his books and other literature related to the "real" South as he saw it from history and in his mind.
Just as the homestead of Rowan Oak predated the Civil War, literature created by Faulkner can definitely be stamped by a certain time frame of reference.
Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi / Home of William Faulkner
Additions were made to Rowan Oak after being purchased by the Faulkner family.
- Brick terraces were added as well as banisters to existing parts of the house.
- An office was added adhering to William Faulkner's specifications after being awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
- Gardens and a privacy wall was another addition made to their home after he became better known as a recognized and reputed author and as the money for his efforts increased.
The day that we were wandering the grounds the vines on the large old grape arbor were laden with fruit.
The Rowan Oak grounds are open from dawn to dusk daily and are well worth a stroll. The home is open from 10 AM to 4 PM Tuesday - Saturday and from 1 PM to 4 PM on Sundays. In addition to Mondays, a few other holidays will also find the home closed to the public. To arrange special tours this number can be used: (662) 234-3284.
Short Stories by William Faulkner
Short stories were also written by William Faulkner and here is a sampling by no means inclusive of some of those titles:
- A Rose for Emily
- Red Leaves
- That Evening Sun
- Dry September
Many artists and writers struggle for money. William Faulkner got a few breaks along the way. Being awarded a Pulitzer Prize helped. When he was contacted to start writing some screenplays for Hollywood this greatly helped his finances.
Writer in Residence
Faulkner was a writer in residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 to 1962. Because of that relationship, most of his manuscripts reside now at that institution of higher learning.
Nobel Prize Winner
William Faulkner was honored for his writing and picked up his Nobel prize in Stockholm in 1950 when he was 52 years old. He would only live another 10 years.
The U.S. Post Office issued a 22 cent stamp on August 3, 1987 in William Faulkner's honor.
The Sound and the Fury (1959) Pt. 1 ~ Was made into a movie
Some Wrap up Information
William Faulkner married Estelle, his long time love, after she was divorced. She brought a daughter Victoria and a son Malcolm into the marriage.
Estelle and William had two children. Sadly one daughter survived only a few days. Their other child Jill got married in the parlor inside of Rowan Oak and became Mrs. Jill Faulkner Summers.
The funeral service for William Faulkner would be held in that same parlor according to written accounts. The Faulkner family lived in their beloved home for over 40 years.
In 1973 the University of Mississippi acquired the property of Rowan Oak from Mrs. Summers and many of the original belongings are still inside of the house.
Interesting rendition of "The Life and Death of William Faulkner"
Located just south of the main square in Oxford, Mississippi one can walk through the woods to enjoy the University Museums and Rowen Oak if one allots enough time. The University of Mississippi campus is also a lovely spot to visit.
Thanks to my Aunt Lois and also her daughter Julie who accompanied my mother, niece and me on this visit into Oxford, we came away from that sojourn with not only a feeling of the scenic beauty of the place but some history of one of its famous past residents.
Rowan Oak has about 23,000 visitors annually and I would heartily recommend a visit to the home of the published and well known author William Faulkner if your travels ever take you to the lovely town of Oxford, Mississippi.
Would visiting the Faulkner Home of Rowan Oak interest you?
Location of Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi
© 2010 Peggy Woods