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William Faulkner Bookmark William Faulkner (1897–1962)

“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”

By 1944, William Faulkner was a literary footnote. Though in the 1930s, he’d produced a string of important novels, including The Sound and the Fury and Light in August. Only one, Sanctuary, was still in print, and it was the one he claimed to have written purely for the money. Since 1935 he’d been supporting his family by travelling to Hollywood part of each year to write screenplays for the motion picture industry. He’d begun to have some success there, but as a novelist, Faulkner was all but forgotten in his own country.

All of that changed in 1944 when he received a letter from Malcolm Cowley, editor of The Portable Hemingway. Cowley suggested they collaborate on a similar anthology for Faulkner’s work. Two years later, it was published, and it proved be a turning point for Faulkner’s career and reputation. Within a year, the Modern Library had brought all of his work back into print, and the awards started coming soon after: the Howells Medal for Distinguished Work in American Literature, the National Book Award for his Collected Stories, and finally, in 1950, the Nobel Prize for Literature. In six short years, he’d gone from literary footnote to national treasure.
William Faulkner