William Faulknerís Yoknapatawpha County, with Jefferson as its county seat, is both a mythical and actual place. Yoknapatawpha county is 2400 square miles in area and has a population of 15,611 persons. Jefferson has an actual jail, town square, old houses, and Old Frenchmanís Place, even a railroad. Faulknerís "Yoknapatawpha County" is in reality Lafayette County, and "Jefferson" is actually Oxford. The Faulkner family lived there since before the Civil War. This is where most of his stories take place. He pondered the family history and his own personal history; and he used both in writing his stories. (American Writers; 54)
Faulkner born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897. In 1902 they moved to Oxford ("Jefferson"), the seat of the University of Mississippi. His father, Murray C. Falkner, (the u was added to the family name by the printer who set up Williamís first book, The Marble Faun) ran a livery stable and a hardware store. Later he became business manager of the University. Maud Butler was his mother and Murray, John, and Dean were his three brothers. (American Writers; 55a)
Faulknerís great-grandfather was William C. Falkner. He was born in 1825. He was a legendary figure in Northern Mississippi. Many details of his life have shown up in Faulknerís writings. He was twice acquitted of murder charges. He was a believer in severe discipline and was a colonel of a group of raiders of the Civil War. He began as a poor youngster trying to take care of his widowed mother, but ending his career as the owner of a railroad and a member of the state legislature. He was killed by his former railroad partner shortly after he had defeated the other for a seat in the legislature. There is a statue of William C. Falkner facing his railroad today. (American Writers; 55b)
J. W. T. Faulkner was a lawyer, a banker, and assistant United States attorney. He was an active member of "rise of the "rednecks"", the political movement that gave greater suffrage to tenant farmers. The people of Oxford say he had and explosive temper. (American Writers; 55c)
The characters Colonel Sartoris and Bayard Sartoris portray Faulknerís great-grandfather and grandfather. These characters show up in many of his stories such as Sartoris and The Unvanquished. They are a part of the Old South legend and they play an important role in the saga of Yoknapatawpha. (American Writers; 55d)
William was a poor student. He left highshool in the tenth grade to work in his grandfatherís bank. He liked to read, and wrote some poetry of his own. He also tried painting. The towns people said he was a moody boy, and seemed as a puzzle to them. He began a friendship with Phil Stone in 1914. Phil was a young lawyer. This gave him a chance for literary discussions and helped acquaint him with such rising reputations as Conrad Aiken, Robert Frost, Erza Pound, and Sherwood Anderson. (American Writers; 55e)
William was underweight and only five feet tall. Because of this, he was turned down by the United States Army. He did, however, join the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto, Canada, and a cadet. On December 22, 1918, the date of demobilization, he became an honorary second lieutenant. He was often preoccupied with both the events and the implications of World War I, like most other writers of his age. Many of his earlier books deal with this. (American Writers; 55f)
As a veteran, he was allowed to enroll at the University of Mississippi. There he studied English, Spanish, and French, but he was only in residence for one full academic year. He took a job in a bookstore in New York City, but he soon returned to Oxford. He did odd jobs such as a carpenter of house painter for two years, then became postmaster at the university. He soon resigned, saying in his letter of resignation, " I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp." This same year, 1924, The Marble Faun was publicized, a book of poems. Stone had subsidized its publication. (American Writers; 55g)
Faulkner decided to go to Europe by means of New Orleans. Once