Take a Tour of William Faulkner's Oxford
From Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, to his grave, Oxford is the ultimate literary destination to get a glimpse into the life of a Southern icon.
The Ultimate Literary Pilgrimage
Every year, about 25,000 literary pilgrims come from around the world to visit Oxford, Mississippi, the heart of the “postage stamp of native soil” that was the model for William Faulkner’s world. The fictional setting for most of his stories, Yoknapatawpha County is “one of the most convincing ever conceived by a writer,” wrote the late Willie Morris in a 1989 National Geographic cover story. “A microcosm not only of the South but also of the human race,” Willie observed, Faulkner’s fictitious county and the real one—Lafayette—“are the most tangibly, palpably connected to one writer’s soul of any locale in America.”
First Stop: Oxford Square
But above all, the courthouse: the center, the focus, the hub; sitting looming in the center of the county’s circumference like a single cloud in its ring of horizon…
When you drive into Oxford, the courthouse is the first literary landmark you see, the centerpiece of Oxford Square, where a bronze plaque bears that passage from Requiem for a Nun. The statue in front, a Confederate soldier, has made cameos in various stories: Soldiers Pay, Requiem for a Nun, and most famously The Sound and the Fury:
They approached the square, where the Confederate soldier gazed with empty eyes beneath his marble hand in wind and weather.
Visit Maud Faulkner's Home
Tour Rowan Oak
Rowan Oak, the antebellum house that Faulkner bought when still struggling to make a living with words, is now a museum. It is owned by the University of Mississippi, which on the eve of the 148th anniversary of the Civil War finally changed its mascot from the politically loaded Rebel to the Rebel Black Bear, a nod to one of Faulkner’s most critically acclaimed stories, The Bear, which appeared in full form as a chapter in Go Down, Moses.
Inside Faulkner's Home
Now owned by the University of Mississippi, Rowan Oak is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk daily. Call 662/234-3284 to schedule a visit.
See The Sound and the Fury House
Pay Homage at Faulkner's Grave
Perhaps the most decorous homage a Faulknerphile can pay is a visit to his grave, where the standard rite is to drink a swig of bourbon and leave the bottle as a gift. On our visit, we find the last third of a fifth of Maker’s Mark and an empty pint of Jack Daniel’s, Faulkner’s whiskey of choice. His marker is modest by any means but particularly compared to the 30-foot Italian obelisk that towers over his mother’s grave in the family plot up the hill. And while he wrote an elegiac inscription for his brother's headstone, his own bears simply his name and dates, and a generic phrase with—perfectly—an errant apostrophe:
Go with God
Join the Faulkner Society