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William Faulkner (1897 - 1962): A Study Guide

This guide is designed to help students conduct research on the novels and stories of William Faulkner.

William Faulkner Web Resources

Varieties of Books About Faulkner

Among the things Faulkner and Hemingway have in common (aside from both being Nobel laureates) is that they have elicited massive books of criticism. Criticism of Faulkner has become something of a cottage industry.  The Faulkner critical approaches are varied to an extreme. They include:

  • Glossaries
  • Bibliographies
  • Concordances
  • Character lists
  • Maps and geographical charts of Yoknapatawpha
  • Casebooks of each of the major novels
  • General collections of essays
  • Books on Faulkner and Southern Literature
  • Biographies
  • Specific literary criticism of individual Faulkner titles
  • Generalized criticism of Faulner's work
  • Postmodern, Feminist, Marxist and other approaches to the work

Our library has books on all of these approaches (and more) to William Faulkner.  Explore a little.  Browse the Faulkner section in the Louis J. Blume Library.

A Faulkner Timeline


photograph of William Faulkner (black and white)

Below are some of the key dates, not all, in the life of William Faulkner.  Only the most important books are included. You can see a more complete guideline at the site listed below.  This timeline is excerpted from it:

Padgett, John B. “William Faulkner Chronology.” William Faulkner on the Web17 August 2006. 01 June 2010>

September 25, 1897: Born in New Albany, Mississippi.

July 9, 1918: Joins and reports to the Canadian Air Force in Toronto.

1925:  Contributes various New Orleans sketches to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Meets Sherwood Anderson, who befriends him and helps him publish his first novel:  Soldier's Pay, which will come out the next year.

1929: Sartoris is published and, later that same year, The Sound and the Fury is published.

1930: Faulkner purchases the house he will name Rowan Oak.  As I Lay Dying is published.

June 24, 1933:  Birth of his daughter, Jill.

1936: Absalom, Absalom! published.

1939: Elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters.  The Wild Palms is published.

1946: Viking Press publishes The Portable Faulkner, edited by Malcom Cowley.

1950: Collected Stories is published.  Faulkner is notified that he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1962: The Reivers (Faulkner's last novel) is published.

July 6, 1962: William Faulkner dies of a heart attack.


Do be aware that this is a VERY heavily edited time-line.  Check the original at the URL listed above for the complete version.

Faulkner Biographies in the St. Mary's library catalog

There have been many biographies of William Faulkner and most are quite excellent.  This list is restricted to the best, most important biographies appearing in the Louis J. Blume Library's on-line catalog.  If you look at more than one, you'll start to get an idea of the scope of the field of biographies in general.  From the Blotner biography (which includes every bit of life data available), to the Parini biography (eloquently written and more interested in discussing the books), to the Oates biography that is more interested in tellng the story of the life, we see varied approaches to the whole discipline of full biography.  Other biographies deal only with parts of the life or interpret the life as part of a larger context (Southern authors, for example, or modernist writers).  Still others are more interested in the life in relationship to other authors:  Hemingway, Anderson, Borges, etc.  If you can only read one, I recommend the Parini biography.

Please note that your library has many other biographies of William Faulkner.  Your best bet is to read biographies published after Blotner's ground-breaking work.

Using Journal Articles in Your Faulkner Research

Much of the most important recent research on William Faulkner will be found in critical journals. Use Discover and databases like The MLA International Bibliography, JSTOR and Project Muse.

You will find as you explore Faulkner criticism that certain journals have a long history of including Faulknerian work, journals like The Virginia Quarterly Review and the Mississippi Quarterly and The Southern Review. These journals have a special affinity for Faulkner because of his relationship to the universities that host the journals. Faulkner is closely associated with the University of Mississippi where he went to school and worked in the mail room. He was a frequent guest and was much honored during his lifetime by the University of Virginia and many of the editors of The Southern Review and faculty members at LSU were close friends and admirers. But don't just check out the journals, go to the online collections at those universities and search for Faulkner materials.

WARNING for Students: Research can become addictive. You will not have the years some of the folks you will be reading have had to conduct your research and your writing. So, you must, necessarily, budget your time.

Consult a Librarian!!!

Among the most valuable resources you will find in any library are the people who work there. Librarians can assist you with all phases of your research but will not do your research for you. That's your job. If you are having problems finding information you need, though, librarians are here to help. 

Please feel free to schedule an appointment with or email Professor Diane Duesterhoeft. If she's not available, please contact one of our other librarians.

Using Other Libraries

While the Louis J. Blume Library does have an extensive collection of books and journal articles relating to William Faulkner, you may have to use other libraries from time to time. You can use those libraries in a variety of ways. 

First, you can search their catalogues from your computer.  Almost all libraries have online catalogues these days and they invite researchers from anywhere to use them.  You can usually borrow book from those libraries using Interlibrary Loan (ILL) from our own library.  You can fill out an ILL form online and the library will order the book you want or a copy of an article from a journal. 


BE AWARE THAT SOME LIBRARIES CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT CHARGE.  Our own interlibrary loan staff tries very hard to borrow from libraries that do NOT charge, but cannot always do so.


This Guide was originally designed by Dr. H. Palmer Hall, former Executive Director of the Louis J. Blume Library. This Guide was originally used in support of EN 3391 Author and Work - William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, the course he taught during the Fall 2010 semester.