Tag Archive for: William Faulkner

NEMiss.News Perkins, Orbison, Cash & Lewis



Jerry Lee Lewis has occasionally been in my thoughts during the last several weeks. While “The Killer” had a long career in American music, his success as a performer is not why I thought about him. Although I liked a couple of his songs, I was not a “fan” and never attempted to see him perform.

When I heard Friday that Lewis had died, I was a little surprised. I’d presumed he was already long dead.

My recent transient thoughts about Jerry Lee started while reading Carl Rollyson’s new biography of William Faulkner. Jill Smith had Rollyson speak at the Union County Heritage Museum in July, and I bought the biography from the museum shop.

Rollyson’s two-volume, 1,097-page, biography of Faulkner is based on many years of research into the life and literary career of the Mississippi Nobelist. Rollyson did an enormous amount of research of his own. Additionally, he had access to the research of Faulkner’s early biographer, Joseph Blotner, and the work of several other writers over the last 60 years.

Until now, Blotner’s book would have been considered the most important Faulkner biography. Blotner was a friend of Faulkner’s from the latter’s time as a lecturer at the University of Virginia. He had first person access to Faulkner and was a pall bearer at the novelist’s funeral in 1962.

Blotner was a good writer of straight forward prose, but his 1974 biography and a subsequent 1991 condensed paperback version were relatively sparse on details about the darker aspects of Faulkner’s life. Blotner does write about Faulkner’s alcohol problem and touches on other details of an unhappy life. However, the reader of Blotner’s Faulkner is spared the many, many ugly details. Some believe Blotner left out most of the nastier stuff to avoid offending Faulkner’s widow and their daughter Jill Faulkner Summers.

Not so with Carl Rollyson’s book. While reading the first volume I was somewhat put off by the abundance of detail about everything from minutia about Faulkner’s personal wardrobe to excruciating details about his long and lucrative career as a screenwriter in Hollywood. I thought it distracted from the flow of the narrative. However, I read Rollyson’s published comments regarding his belief that every detail of the subject’s life is relevant.

Rollyson gives heavy emphasis to the fact that much of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha fiction is about Southern Decadence: violence, predatory miscegenation, rape, incest, racism, alcoholism, debauchery in general and “the Rise of the Redneck.” He spares us no details in discussing Faulkner’s own dissipation, his many dalliances with very young women and his self-destructive binges on alcohol. The genius of Rowan Oak was brought close to death by his drinking bouts many times, wallowing for days in his own filth, and was hospitalized dozens of times to salvage him from dipsomania.

Faulkner died in 1962 at Wright’s Sanitarium, a small private clinic for alcoholics in Byhalia, Desoto County, Mississippi. He was two months shy of his 65th birthday.

What does Faulkner have to do with Jerry Lee Lewis? It is very unlikely that Faulkner ever heard a recording of Jerry Lee singing and even less likely that The Killer ever read a single page of anything Faulkner wrote. Lewis did have a unique singing style and could literally set fire to a piano, but those are not the reasons I thought of him while reading about Faulkner’s life.

It is simply this: The life of Jerry Lee Lewis’s exemplified Southern Decadence.

Lewis married a 13-year old child, a first cousin, in 1957. The scandal of his incest and statutory rape of the girl derailed his early success as a rock-and-roll artist. However, a dozen years later he came back strong as a performer of country and gospel music. By 1970 he was on top.

His outrageous incidents while under the influence of alcohol and other chemicals were legendary.

He accidentally shot Butch Owens, his base player, in the chest with a handgun in 1976. That same year, the Memphis police arrested him, stoned, at the front gate of Elvis Presley’s house on old Highway 51. He was brandishing a handgun and demanding that Elvis come out, so they could settle who was really “The King” or some such nonsense.

The Killer was married seven times, and two of his wives died under what were called “mysterious circumstances.” A grand jury looked into the 1983 death of one of his wives, who died of an overdose with some of Lewis’s own methadone in her body. He had good lawyers and was not indicted.

I thought of Jerry Lee Lewis several times while reading about debauchery in the life and literature of William Cuthbert Faulkner. The life of The Killer would have made an appropriate character and plot for a Faulkner novel. Brother Will would have had to tone it down a little to make it believable, sort of obscure it in those thousand-word sentences.

Jerry Lee Lewis died at age 87, also in Desoto County, living 23 years longer than William Faulkner. Hard living punishes some more, and quicker, than others.


NEMiss.News Professional biographer Carl Rollyson


Professional biographer, Carl Rollyson , PH. D, Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, City University of New York, has published more than forty books.

The Union County Heritage Museum will host Rollyson at a book talk and book signing on Tuesday, July 19, at noon regarding his recent two volume biography of New Albany native William Faulkner.

Brown Bag lunch is available at 11:30.  The event is free.

 A prolific writer, blogger and speaker Rollyson is the author of fourteen biographies for adults, and four biographies for children.  His biographies of Rebecca West and Amy Lowell, and his study, A Higher Form of Cannibalism? Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography, were supported by NEH Fellowships.

Three of his biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Dana Andrews, and Walter Brennan are part of the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi.

NEMiss.News The Life of William Faulkner Vol. 1

“The Life of William Faulkner,” Volume 1.

His first book Uses of the Past in the Novels of William Faulkner, remains in print. His two-volume biography, The Life of William Faulkner, and The Last Days of Sylvia, were both published in 2020. University Press of Mississippi will publish William Faulkner Day by Day in November 2022. .

First scheduled to speak in New Albany in 2020, his visit has had to be cancelled twice due to the pandemic.  This year, he will speak in New Albany, Pontotoc and Ripley while in the area.

With access to previously unpublished materials Rollyson has created a life of Faulkner for the new millennium. With access to previously unused materials, Rollyson presents the richest rendering of Faulkner yet published.

In addition to his own extensive interviews, Rollyson consults the complete—and never fully shared—research of pioneering Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner, who discarded from his authorized biography substantial findings in order to protect the Faulkner family.

Rollyson also had  access to the work of Carvel Collins, whose decades-long inquiry produced one of the greatest troves of primary source material in American letters related to Faulkner.

This first volume “The Life of William Faulkner: The Past is Never Dead 1897-1934” follows Faulkner from his formative years through his introduction to Hollywood. Rollyson sheds light on Faulkner’s unpromising, even bewildering youth, including a gift for tall tales that blossomed into the greatest of literary creativity. He provides the fullest portrait yet of Faulkner’s family life, in particular his enigmatic marriage, and offers invaluable new insight into the ways in which Faulkner’s long career as a screenwriter influenced his iconic novels.

NEMiss.News Cover of coming Volume 2 of Faulkner Biography

Volume 2 of “The Life of William Faulkner” will be released on November 2022.

Integrating Faulkner’s screenplays, fiction, and life, Rollyson argues that the novelist deserves to be reread not just as a literary figure but as a still-relevant force, especially in relation to issues of race, sexuality, and equality. The culmination of years of research in archives that have been largely ignored by previous biographers, The Life of William Faulkner offers a significant challenge and an essential contribution to Faulkner scholarship.

Rollyson takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the composition of Absalom, Absalom!, widely considered Faulkner’s masterpiece, as well as the film adaptation he authored—unproduced and never published— Revolt in the Earth.

Volume 2 of this monumental work will be released in November 2022.


Jill Smith, Director

Union County Heritage Museum

114 Cleveland Street

New Albany, MS 38652

NEMiss.News Writer's Inn, on Faulkner's birthplace site


The public is invited to tour the renovated birth site of William Faulkner on Sunday, Dec. 12, from, 1 p.m.  –  3 p.m.  It is located on the corner of Cleveland and Jefferson Street on the north side of town a block from the Union County Heritage Museum.  The address is 204 Cleveland St.

The Union County Historical Society purchased the house to preserve the site of the famous  Nobel Prize winning writer’s birth and to use it in programming, as well as a one-night-stay inn.

NEMiss.News Faulker photo in Writer's Inn

An image of William Faulkner and his typewriter is part of Writer’s Inn decor.

The Inn has been furnished with donations and is a four bedroom two bath home that was built in 1953, when the birth home was torn down.

The Society financed the purchase and renovation, which began almost two years ago and the Museum Guild undertook to decorate the home.  Faulkner was born here on September 25, 1897.  His family was here because his father worked on the Ripley Railroad, which evolved into the GM&O, connecting Tennessee with Mobile through the heart of Mississippi.

Since its opening, guests from the coast, from Arizona and other points have stayed in the new “writers inn”. Decor includes literary themes, shabby chic as well as traditional.  The clean lines of the newly renovated home give it the feeling of a breath of fresh air.  Small groups have also used the home as a meeting place.

Christmas decorations are going up inside the home, and the public is invited to tour the newly renovated historic site.  For more information, call the museum at 662-538-0014.  The tour is free.

Jill Smith, Director

Union County Heritage Museum

114 Cleveland Street

New Albany,MS 38652

Cotton Plant native and Union County’s unofficial resident Faulkner authority Dr. Kate Stewart delved into some of the mystery writing of the Nobel Prize-winning author at the Union County Heritage Museum this past week.

Stewart, a professor at the University of Arkansas-Monticello, talked about Faulkner’s Knight’s Gambit.

The book is a collection of short stories featuring attorney Gavin Stevens, who plays a significant role in Intruder in the Dust.

Described as mysteries rather than detective stories, they appeared in various periodicals and were finally collected in 1949 to loosely serve as a novel.

The printing was marked by semi-lurid paperback covers and described as “tales of crime and guilt and love.”

Stewart said the stories are not as lurid as the book cover, but rather showcase Stevens’ insight and ingenious detection.

Knight’s Gambit is not one of Faulkner’s more popular or better-known stories in that she said only about 50 critical works about it have been published. Most Faulkner works number in the thousands in terms of papers and studies.

One of Faulker’s friends (and one of his pallbearers) described the book as “a kind of refuse bin for second-rate material when Faulkner had little else to show for the 1940s.”

“Most agree Faulkner did his best work in the 1930s,” she said.

Stewart noted that Knight’s Gambit was done after Faulkner had been doing screenplays for Hollywood – most notably Raymond Chandler’s classic, The Big Sleep.

She said he likely had been influenced by the film noir trend at the time, as well as the marketability of popular fiction over more classic literature.

Faulkner was supposedly talking with historian Shelby Foote about the wisdom of venturing into screenplays and Foote’s advice was, “Go ahead and take the money.”

If the 1940s, when Knights’ Gambit was done, represent Faulkner’s decline, several reasons are usually given.

One, she said, was that he didn’t have anything to write about. She finds it incredible that he would not have anything to write about and she rejects that.

Another reason given is alcoholism. But Stewart said, “He was a binge drinker. He would often go on a tear on finishing a novel.” That doesn’t mean he drank regularly or continually.

A third reason is that Hollywood may have distracted him. There was Intruder in the Dust as well as Chandler’s work, Land of the Pharaohs, Gunga Din and others.

He reportedly got along well with director Howard Hawks but didn’t like working there. As he got older he may have become more curmudgeonly, turning down an invitation to the White House. “I’m too old to travel that far for supper,” he reportedly said.

Faulkner faced something else that other writers may have experienced.

“They were critically acclaimed, but nobody bought them,” Stewart said of his novels. The Depression may have influenced this.

“People tend to think big, beefy novels are more important than short stories,” she said, but added that “short stories are harder. You have to get in quickly. There is less wiggle room.”

Stewart said almost nothing specific about the short stories in Knight’s Gambit, not wanting to spoil the mysteries. She did say that “people either love Gavin Stevens – or think he talks too much.”

Although written separately, she said the six stories are interconnected with Stevens’ nephew, a chess player, helping to tie them together. And chess does play its role, including being the title of the last and longest of the stories.

She reiterated that the stories are mysteries rather than detective stories, but still said that in each story Stevens has to get at the truth. “He is one who seeks justice and truth,” she said.

While Stewart said she has a love-hate relationship with popular fiction, she appeared to be fond of the Knight’s Gambit mysteries, even to the point of deciding to teach it rather than The Reivers.

“Faulkner is writing about everything going on in American right now,” she said. “He is still relevant.



The Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded more than $1.4 million in funding to artists and arts programs across the state for fiscal year 2022, which began July 1, 2021.

Awards were made in 79 Mississippi House of Representatives districts and 50 state Senate districts, to 136 organizations and schools and to 59 individual artists. Recipients will benefit in a number of ways, including operating support for museums and community arts organizations, arts integration and guest artist presentations in schools and continuing education and supplies for working artists.

The Union County Historical Society and Heritage Museum received $3,750 to present the William Faulkner Literary Festival & Competition.

The historical society and museum also received a rapid response grant. These grants were in an effort to respond to the changing needs of artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals could receive up to $500 while organizations could get up to $1,000 to adapt their arts-related work to online platforms such as online workshops, children’s art activities or virtual gatherings. Funds may also be used to hire MAC roster artists or to pursue organizational professional development such as hiring a consultant or attending training for emergency response and future preparedness, strategic planning or other adaptive organizational pursuits.

“We are thrilled to announce and congratulate this year’s many deserving grant recipients,” said Sarah Story, executive director of MAC. “We applaud these talented and innovative individuals and groups who met the challenge of one of the hardest years the arts sector has experienced. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi State Legislature fund MAC’s annual grants, and we are thankful for their support. We are especially grateful for Sen. Briggs Hopson and Rep. John Read who recognized the great need of the arts community during the pandemic and increased MAC’s budget by $140,000 to provide greater support of the arts in our state this past Legislative Session.”

In addition to making direct grants, MAC accepted 21 schools into its Whole Schools Initiative program, which provides educators with intensive professional development for integrating the arts across the curriculum.

MAC also approved 31 artists and performing groups for inclusion in its Artist Roster and Teaching Artist Roster, which features many of the best artists and arts educators working in the state. The Artist Roster is updated annually on MAC’s website, and all new roster artists will be added by this fall.

To see the full list of grantees, please visit the following link: https://arts.ms.gov/grant-recipients/. For more information on MAC’s grant programs, Artist Roster and other services, visit the agency’s website at arts.ms.gov.

The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.


NEMiss.News Museum Moments review of Knight's Gambit


Events are lining up for the annual Faulkner Literary Fest which begins in July and continues through the summer with events and activities focusing on all things literary.

Dr. Kate Stewart at Museum Moments

Dr. Kate Stewart, Ph.D. will review one of Faulkner’s more obscure books, Knight’s Gambit, at the Union County Heritage Museum on Thursday, July 15, at noon.

Knight’s Gambit is a 1949 short story collection including six of Faulkner’s stories about attorney Gavin Stevens, who also takes a leading part in his novel Intruder in the Dust. One of the stories is also called Knight’s Gambit.

The first five stories were published in magazines and when the sixth came out they were all combined into one publication that some consider a novel.

A light lunch will be provided to attendees of Museum Moments by the Museum Guild beginning at 11:30.  The event is free thanks to the museum’s Community Partners.

Stewart, a Faulkner Scholar, is an English Professor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.  “The Cotton Plant native is a regular and much-enjoyed speaker during the fest in New Albany.  Her presentations have a lot of depth and she also has a great sense of humor,” said Jill Smith, museum director.

Writing for Children workshop and Faulkner Literary Competition

“We are happy to be presenting Museum Moments and the Writing for Children workshop on July 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  – cost $30,  as part of the  community’s annual emphasis on writing,” Smith said.

As the deadline nears for the annual William Faulkner Writing completion, there will be more opportunities to participate in related activities.

The competition honors Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner who was born on Sept. 25, 1897, on Jefferson Street in New Albany. Some of his other honors include the 1955 and 1963 Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction and the 1951 and 1955 National Book Awards.

Union Countians decided to begin honoring the author each year beginning on the centennial of his birth.

The writing competition was added and thanks to the donation of former Union County resident Eric Saul, now living in Tennessee, the contest includes the categories of Novel, One-Act Play, Poetry, Adult Short Story and Student Short Story.

The deadline for novel entries is only three days away: July 15. The winner receives $2,000 and second place gets an honorable mention certificate.

The one-act play, poetry and adult short story deadlines are all July 31.

The one-act play winner receives $600 with $300 and $200 for second and third place winners, respectively. The winning play is often presented by New Albany Community Theatre the following year during the celebration.

The poetry and adult short story winners also receive $600, $300 and $200 for first, second and third places.

The deadline for student short story entries is later, Aug. 31, and this category is only open to Mississippi high school students.

First prize is $250, second is $150 and third is $100.

For more detailed entry information, go to https://williamfaulknerliterarycompetition.com/ or call the Union County Heritage Museum at 662-538-0014.



Dr. Kate Stewart modestly claims no expertise concerning William Faulkner but the Cotton Plant native has still become the de facto local authority on the Nobel Prize-winning writer. She regularly assists with the Faulkner Literary Competition and often provides reviews and commentary on Faulkner’s works.

Thursday, she was on Facebook Live talking about Go Down Moses as part of this year’s literary festival.

Published in 1940, it was not one of Faulkner’s early works, she said.

The title, of course, comes from the Book of Exodus where Moses was directed to go to the pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go.

Faulkner’s publisher described Go Down Moses as a collection of seven related stories. “But Faulkner always referred to it as a novel,” she said.

“The Bear” is the longest and probably best-known of the stories, but the novel as a whole deals with Faulkner’s themes of young men being mentored and the loss and decay of the wilderness.

The main story is about the phases of a boy’s life to old age and what he learns from older men and being in nature.

“Some critics say ‘The Bear’ is the best hunting story ever written,” she said.

Stewart believes Faulkner is not losing popularity but conceded, “Critics don’t know what to do with Faulkner in terms of race relations…He was not politically correct.”

Also, Faulkner in these stories – perhaps a precursor to Quentin Tarantino – does not always present a narrative in the order it happened, she said. It’s also quirky in that the fate of a slave couple and the potential marriage of one of the participants hinges on a marathon and sometimes-shady poker game.

A side note: the Union County Heritage Museum has the door to the hunting camp that was the model for the story.

“There are real places in the story and this is a real memory Faulkner had,” she said.

Stewart said some of Faulkner’s best work came out between 1929 and 1936 with The Sound and the Fury in 1929, Light in August in 1932 and Absalom, Absalom! in 1936.

Light in August and Absalom, Absalom are my favorites,” she said. “If you like detective stories then Light in August is probably best. If you like family secrets, then Absalom, Absalom!”

She added that The Hamlet “is probably the raunchiest.”

She noted that the writer’s later novels showed a different influence because of his exposure to Hollywood.

Museum director Jill Smith introduces Stewart

“I taught Intruder in the Dust and The Reivers,” she said. “Both went to film.”

“The movies affected him,” she continued. “I think he saw a good opportunity for making money.”

Indeed, Faulkner co-wrote the film noir classic “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler (he also was a writer for “Land of the Pharaohs” and other movies).

Stewart probably will provide more programs next year.

“There’s still plenty of Faulkner for anybody to read,” she said.


The 2020 Faulkner Literary Festival will continue this week as scheduled, except in a virtual format because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A children’s poetry reading will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

The main event, however, will be at noon Friday, Sept. 25, with the announcement of 2020 William Faulkner Literary Award winners. The categories include novel, short story, poetry, one-act play and student.

The featured speaker will be Robert Hitt Neil, who is a writer, humorist and storyteller.

His work includes books, video, syndicated weekly newspaper columns and magazine articles. He has won 39 awards for writing and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the Ernie Pyle Award, the Ernest Hemingway Award, Conservation Communicator of the Year, Southern Gentlemen of the Year and Governor’s Artist of the Year.

Books by Robert Hitt Neill include The Flaming TurkeyGoing Home; How to Lose your Farm In Ten Easy Lessons and Cope With It; The Jakes!; The Voice Of Jupiter Pluvius; Don’t Fish Under The Dingleberry Tree; an anthology The Magnolia Club; a compiled cookbook Outdoor Tables and Tales; and Beware The Barking Bumblebees

Friday evening, at 7 p.m. the Tallahatchie River Players will present a staged reading of the 2019 winning one-act play, Untethered, by Judy Klass of Nashville.

Later, at 10 a.m. Sept. 30, Dr. Elizabeth Crews will teach a memoir writing class.

Earlier in the month writer Bill Rose spoke about late coach Ben Jones, Sherra Owen presented a program live from the museum’s Faulkner Garden and Dr. Kate Stewart discussed Faulkner’s Go Down Moses.

Each of the events is available through Facebook Live.


About William Faulkner, Faulkner Gardenhttp://ucheritagemuseum.com/william-faulkner/

Museum FB page: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamFaulknerGardenatuchm/

Magnolia Civic Center FB: https://www.facebook.com/CivicCenterNA/

Faulkner art challenge

William Faulkner Literary Competition 2020 is in process with winners to be announced on Sept. 25, fittingly on the birthday of William Faulkner. In New Albany’s RiverFest , the Literary events are a big part of  Faulkner’s birthplace  celebration.

Many of the 2020 literary events will be virtual.  Entries in the competition include 51 short stories, 84 one-act plays, 39 poems and 62 novels. The competition has a very international flavor with entries from all over the world. The student competition is open to Mississippi students only and that deadline is not until  Aug. 31.  “High school students have the opportunity to win money and establish writing credibility in this contest.  Parents and teachers, please encourage students to enter.  It is free to enter the student competition,” said Jill Smith, Director of Union County Heritage Museum. Go to www.williamfaulknerliterarycompetition.com  for more information.

A staged reading of the last year’s winning one-act play, Untethered by Judy Klass of Nashville will be done by the Tallahatchie River Players Sept. 25,  7 p.m. from the Magnolia Civic Center, said Civic Center Director Emily Draffen who is coordinating this.

Other local events related to the Literary Festival include an upcoming Memoir Writing class that will be taught virtually by Dr. Elizabeth Crews. Call the museum at 662-538-0014 if you are interested in participating.

Robert Hitt Neil, Mississippi writer and storyteller is the awards luncheon guest speaker and is  a native of Leland, Miss.   His virtual presentation will be available online. His works has received many awards including nominations for a Pulitzer Prize, the Ernie Pyle Awards a Earnest Hemmingway Award, Gentleman of the year and Governor’s Artist of the Year.  Books by Neil include The Flaming Turkey, Going Home, How to Lose Your Farm in Ten Easy Lessons,  Don’t Fish under the Dingleberry,  The Magnolia Club and Outdoor Tables and Tales. 

A virtual book talk from the William Faulkner Library at the Union County Heritage Museum will feature awards-winning writer Bill Rose as he talks about his research and plans to publish a book  on former New Albany Coach Ben Jones, one of the area’s winningest coaches.  This will be Aug. 20, 2 p.m. Facebook live with related interviews to follow.

Dr. Kate Stewart from the University of Arkansas at Monticello will give a book talk at the Faulkner Library on the book Go Down Moses on Sept. 17, noon.  Her presentation will be a Facebook live event.

The gifted class at New Albany Elementary under the leadership of Ninabeth Capaning and Glen Reeder will participate in a poetry writing workshop.   This year the students will read original poems as part of the virtual celebration of New Albany’s literary legacy.

The William Faulkner Literary Competition began in 1997, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Faulkner.  Hundreds of writers from Australia, Ireland, Israel, Iran, Jordan, New Zealand, Canada and cities all over the United States have participated.  Because of COVID, all activities will be virtual.

NEMiss.news Faulkner Literary Competition entry deadline

New Albany, MS – The July 31 deadline for most categories in the 2020 William Faulkner Literary Contest will be here Friday.

That is the last day to receive entries in the one-act play, poetry and adult short story categories. The deadline for the novel category has already passed, July 15, but entries in the student short story category have until Aug. 31 to be received.

Despite the disruption in daily life by the coronavirus, Union County Heritage Museum Director Jill Smith said they have received almost as many entries as usual, and expect several more to arrive in the next couple of days.

At least 60 novels have been submitted with more than 150 entries total.

Winners will be announced Friday, Sept. 25, on the anniversary of William Faulkner’s birth.

Previously, this has been done at an awards luncheon with a guest speaker, but it appears unlikely this will be the case this year due to pandemic precautions.

Smith said the awards and guest speaker will probably be seen via Zoom, Facebook Live or some other platform.

The guest speaker will be Robert Hitt Neil.

The Leland native wrote as a hobby while farming for 20 years, and was first published in late 1985.  He has published nine books, has a syndicated weekly newspaper column, free-lances for many magazines, and is a professional storyteller.  Most of his work is humorous.

Honors include being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the Ernie Pyle Award, the Ernest Hemingway Award, Conservation Communicator of the Year, Southern Gentlemen of the Year and Governor’s Artist of the Year.

His books include The Flaming TurkeyGoing Home; How to Lose your Farm In Ten Easy Lessons and Cope With It; The Jakes!; The Voice Of Jupiter Pluvius; Don’t Fish Under The Dingleberry Tree; an anthology The Magnolia Club; a compiled cookbook Outdoor Tables and Tales; and Beware The Barking Bumblebees.

The writing competition grew out of the festival that celebrated the centennial of William Faulkner’s birth.

He was born on Sept. 25, 1897, on Jefferson Street in New Albany and most famously won the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, the 1955 and 1963 Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction and the 1951 and 1955 National Book Awards.

The contest has grown over the years with entries, and winners, from nearly all parts of the world.

Cash prizes go to winners, as well as the honor.

The winning novelist receives a $2,000 cash award.

The one-act play winner receives $600 with lesser amounts for second and third place.

The prizes for the poetry competition and adult short story are the same as for one-act plays.

The winner in the student short story competition receives $250, with lesser amounts for second and third place.

The writing competition is supported financially by a donation from former Union County resident Eric Saul, now living in Tennessee. Other supporters in the past have included the New Albany Gazette, Union County Heritage Museum, Holiday Inn Express, Jennie Stephens Smith Library and several civic groups include the New Albany Rotary Club and a tourism grant from the City of New Albany.


For more information about the competition and specific entry requirements, go to their website:



New Albany, MS Faulkner recognized in New Albany

New Albany, MS, July 4, 2019: Faulkner not forgotten in New Albany.

Twenty-eight years ago today, July 4, 1991, my wife, our then six-year-old daughter and I came through New Albany on our way to a family party in Memphis.

Although it had never then crossed my mind that New Albany would become my ultimate home town, the town and William Cuthbert Faulkner had been on my mind as we drove that morning from our home in central Mississippi.

I had been a Faulkner aficionado since I was in high school. I knew Faulkner was born in New Albany. I knew he had died on July 6, 1962. So the following day would have been the 29th anniversary of his death. He had died in Byhalia in a sanitarium, where had gone to recover from one of his infamous bouts with alcoholism.

With all that in mind, we drove around New Albany a little bit. We saw nothing — nothing — that indicated in any way that New Albany had ever heard of William Faulkner, much less cared a whit about him. That made me a little sad.

Finally, we stopped at the local McDonald’s, which was then located on the east side of Highway 30 in the building now occupied by Tokyo Sushi and Steakhouse. There we found a “permanent exhibit of black and white photographs that evoke Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha County. There were photos of Faulkner himself, handsome and distant. Photos of a seedy Rowan Oak, far less spruced up than its current incarnation as a shrine. Old photos of decadent plantation houses with bare ‘swept’ yards; mule teams in mismatched, patched harness; gaunt barefoot black people…”

That’s what I wrote a few days later — in 1991. Only the local McDonald’s in New Albany took any notice that we could see of the human being who was its best ever product.

Now, all of that has changed for the better, mainly because of the work of the Union County Heritage Museum. The museum has become the cultural jewel of Union County, likely the best small town museum anywhere in America.
William Faulkner is no longer forgotten in New Albany.

The thanks goes mainly to Jill Smith, the Union County Heritage Museum Director. As she has built the museum over the last two decades, Jill Smith has seen to it that William Faulkner is a prime focus. There is the Faulkner Literary Garden, an integral part of the museum, with its art and flora that commemorate Faulkner. Shere Owen, the curator of the garden, has worked with Jill Smith. They have made the Faulkner Literary Garden an essential stop for hundreds of visitors from all over the world who come to New Albany to honor Faulkner.

The museum has recently acquired the site of the Faulkner birthplace on Cleveland Street. It has seen to it that a street that borders the museum is named for Faulkner. The museum features exhibits about Faulkner and has built a library of books, some of them rare, by and about Faulkner.

Part of Highway 30 between New Albany and Oxford is named for Faulkner. His image is on New Albany’s new water tower on the east side of Highway 15. The work of naming Highway 30 for Faulkner and getting his picture on the water town was spearheaded by Sean Johnson, the former director of tourism for the city of New Albany. The museum supported Johnson in those efforts, creating the culture that helped it happen.

On July 4, 2019, William Faulkner is a celebrated figure in his birth town.

The thanks for that goes to Jill Smith and the board of directors of the Union County Heritage Museum: Vance Witt, Dry Creek Henson, Betsy Hamilton, Sam Mosely, Jack Dalton and others whose names do not come to me this early morning of Independence Day, 2019.

Thanks to these folks and others, Faulkner is not forgotten in New Albany, as he seemed to be on July 4, 1991, which, incidentally, was also a Thursday.

 Faulkner Literary Fest: http://newalbanyunionco.com/literary-fest-friday-photos/

Union County Heritage Museum: http://ucheritagemuseum.com/


Luncheon with Books will be held at the Jennie Stephens Smith Library in New Albany Tuesday, October 16. The program is a continuation of Faulkner Fest for September and October.

Dr. Jennifer Ford, head of Special Collections at the University of Mississippi will discuss the University’s Faulkner Resources.

A light lunch will be hosted by New Century Club beginning at 11:30 AM.

Museum Moments will feature Dr. Robert Hamblin, writer and teacher,  on Thursday, October 19, at noon at  Union County Heritage Museum in New Albany talking about the latest biography on William Faulkner, Myself and the World

Hamblin, a north Mississippi native, has spent a career working with the Brodsky Collection, the premier collection of the life and work  of Noble Prize winner, William Faulkner.  He is professor emeritus at Southeast Missouri State University, which houses a large portion of the collection.  He is also the author of other books including My Life with Faulkner and Brodsky, Living in Mississippi: The Life and Times of Evans Harrington, and several books of poetry.

William Faulkner (1897–1962) once said of his novels and stories, “I am telling the same story over and over, which is myself and the world.” This biography provides an overview of the life and career of the famous author, demonstrating the interrelationships of that life with the characters and events of his fictional world.

The book begins In Ripley, Mississippi with a chapter on Faulkner’s most famous ancestor, W. C. Falkner, “the Old Colonel,” who greatly influenced both the content and the form of the writer’s work.  Hamblin examines the highlights of Faulkner’s life, from his childhood to his youthful days as a fledgling poet, through his time in New Orleans, the creation of Yoknapatawpha.  He examines the years of struggle and his season of prolific genius, and through his time in Hollywood and his winning of the Nobel Prize.  Hamblin’s book  concludes with Faulkner’s  last years as writer in residence at the University of Virginia and beyond. .

A free light lunch will be provided by New Century Club, beginning at 11:30 AM.  Dr. Hamblin will speak at Noon.

The event is a is part of the annual Faulkner Literary Fest celebrating William Faulkner and the written word.

The museum is located at 114 Cleveland Street.   For more information call 662-538-0014.

Museum Moments, which is free and open to the puplic, is made possible by the museum’s Community Partners.