William Faulkner’s Newly-Discovered Short Story and Drawings

New Faulkner story

Just when it seemed, after decades of schol­ar­ship, crit­i­cism, and com­men­tary on the life’s work of William Faulkn­er, that there was noth­ing more to say, along comes The New York Times with a report of an ear­ly unpub­lished sto­ry and a batch of let­ters to his wife Estelle, recent­ly uncov­ered in a box found in the barn at the Faulkn­er fam­i­ly farm in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. The new work, dis­cov­ered last year, will go on auc­tion at Sotheby’s this June, along with hand-cor­rect­ed man­u­scripts, a hand-bound poet­ry book, Faulkner’s 1949 Nobel prize medal and diplo­ma, and a hand­writ­ten draft of his accep­tance speech.

The Times com­ments that the Nobel items are “like­ly to be the most sought after” by col­lec­tors, but for schol­ars and us lovers of the writ­ing, it’s the unpub­lished work that holds the most inter­est. Says Faulkn­er schol­ar Sal­ly Wolff-King: “In lit­er­ary cir­cles a new­ly dis­cov­ered first draft of a famous sto­ry or nov­el can be as sig­nif­i­cant as an ear­ly ver­sion of the Get­tys­burg Address to Amer­i­can his­to­ri­ans.”

New Faulkner

In addi­tion to his Nobel-win­ning lit­er­ary skill, Faulkn­er was quite the illus­tra­tor, often includ­ing pen-and-ink draw­ings in his let­ters and post­cards, such as the self-por­trait at left, drawn on the back of a draft of a sto­ry, with new­ly-grown beard and pipe. “My beard is get­ting along quite well,” he writes. Faulkn­er sent illus­trat­ed let­ters and post­cards to his par­ents from his sojourn in Paris, sign­ing them “Bil­ly.”

The image at the top shows the unpub­lished story—about a fur trapper’s trip to the city—typed on the back of Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­sis­sip­pi let­ter­head, where Faulkn­er was a stu­dent for three semes­ters between 1919 and 1920.

via The New York Times

Relat­ed Con­tent:

William Faulkn­er (Who Died 50 Years Ago Today) Reads His Nobel Prize Speech

William Faulkn­er Explains Why Writ­ing is Best Left to Scoundrels … Prefer­ably Liv­ing in Broth­els (1956)

Sev­en Tips From William Faulkn­er on How to Write Fic­tion

William Faulkn­er Audio Archive Goes Online

Josh Jones is a writer, edi­tor, and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him @jdmagness

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