James Murry “Jimmy” Faulkner

Major Works

  • “Brother Will’s Passing.” Southern Living (March 1992): 108-09.

    Jimmy Faulkner,    courtesy of  Teresa Baker

    Jimmy Faulkner, courtesy of Teresa Baker

  • Across the Creek: Faulkner Family Stories (University Press of Mississippi,  1986)
  • Talking About William Faulkner: Interviews With Jimmy Faulkner and Others, Jim Faulkner, Floyd Watkins, and Sally Woolf.

Biography of Jimmy Faulkner

James Murry Falkner was born in Oxford, Mississippi, on July 18, 1923.  Jimmy (as he was called by his family and friends) later changed the spelling of his name to Faulkner, adding the “u” as did his famous uncle William Faulkner and his father John Faulkner.  His brother, Murry C. “Chooky” Falkner, continues to spell the name without the letter, which was accidentally added when one of William Faulkner’s book was published. Jimmy and Chooky are the sons of the writer John Faulkner and nephews of the Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner.  John Falkner bought Snook’s remaining interest in Memory House in Oxford, Mississippi, and became the sole owner. There John and Dolly Falkner made their home throughout their married lives, except for brief periods, and there they raised two sons, Jimmy and Chooky. Both are best known as nephews of William Faulkner.

Chooky Falkner, brother of Jimmy.  Photo by Nancy Jacobs, SHS

Chooky Falkner, brother of Jimmy Faulkner and son of John Faulkner at Faulkner Conference. Photo by Nancy Jacobs, SHS

Like other famous Faulkners, Jimmy liked to fly.  During World War II as a Marine fighter pilot in the Pacific, his plane was shot down. During the Korean war he also flew combat missions. He got a degree in engineering in 1947 and then ran a construction company in Oxford.  He retired in 1983.  Jimmy Faulkner died on  Dec. 24, 2001, at a hospital in Tupelo, Mississippi. All four Faulkner brothers — Brother Will, Jimmy’s father John, and his uncles Jack and Dean — often told stories about their great-grandfather, the Old Colonel ( and model for Colonel Sartoris) who owned a railroad and was shot and killed by a business partner in Ripley, Mississippi.

Jimmy Faulkner’s literary importance is primarily significant because,  until his death in December of 2001, he was a living source of information about William Faulkner, whom Jimmy  resembled.  After William Faulkner’s death in July 1962 and John Faulkner’s death (Jimmy’s father) the following year, Jimmy became the head and spokesman for the  Faulkner family. He often gave talks and answered questions about his famous literary relatives.  He even played the role of Major de Spain in  William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” which was made for PBS. It was Jimmy who voiced the Faulkner family opposition when the Oxford Board of Alderman planned  to place a statue of the famous author in front of the Oxford City Hall.  Jimmy Faulkner  went before the board with a letter from Jill Faulkner Summers, daughter of William Faulkner, which showed her displeasure at the city’s plan to erect the statue. Jimmy read from a letter in which Jill stated, “I do not want a statue of my father made and put on public display — on the Square or any other place, No Oxford official or anyone else approached me, asked my permission, or in any way consulted me about a statue of my father (William Faulkner).” Although Jimmy Faulkner asked the Board to cancel the project (which had already been contracted out to William Beckwith, a local artist), the statue was eventually completed and placed on the square in Oxford, Mississippi.

Jimmy Faulkner (seated) by Teresa Baker

Jimmy Faulkner (seated) by Teresa Baker

All four Faulkner brothers — Brother Will, Jimmy’s father John, and his uncles Jack and Dean — often told stories about their great-grandfather, the Old Colonel, who owned a railroad and was shot and killed in Ripley, Mississippi. Jimmy heard many family stories growing up and he too  loved to tell stories. One of Jimmy Faulkner’s favorite stories was about how his famous uncle went to see the film Gone With The Wind seven times when it came out in 1939. “Brother Will (Faulkner was Jimmy’s uncle, but Jimmy called him Brother Will), never saw the ending,” Jimmy Faulkner said. “He always walked out the first time a Yankee came on the screen.”  Jimmy also takes great pride in the often quoted description of Jimmy  as “the only person who likes me (William Faulkner)  for who I am.”

Jimmy Faulkner describes his taking Brother Will to the hospital the night before he died in the new introduction to his father’s book My Brother Bill .  He writes, “I checked him in, and stayed with him until about 10 that night.  When I was ready to leave, I went to his bedside, reached down and took his hand. I told him, ‘Brother Will, when you’re ready to come home, let me know and I’ll come get you. He said “Yes, Jim, I will.’” He never got home alive. He died around 2 in the morning on July 6, 1962.

Jimmy Faulkner,  a retired architect and contractor with Faulkner Construction,  was married to Nancy Watson Faulkner and the father of a daughter, Meg Faulkner Du Chaine ( still living in Oxford, Mississippi) and  two sons, James Murry Faulkner,  Jr.,  of Jackson and Thomas Wesley Faulkner of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.   Jimmy served with the U.S. Marines during World War II and the Korean Conflict before retiring as a  lieutenant colonel, receiving  the Distinguished Flying Cross, the World War II Victory Ribbon, and the Pacific Theatre Ribbon. Despite the fact that Jimmy said, “I’m an engineer, not a writer,”  Jimmy  wrote  two publications documenting his uncle’s world.  Across the Creek: Faulkner Family Stories  was published in 1986, and  Brother Will’s Passing, was  published in 1992.   Jimmy Faulkner, nephew of William, died at the age of  78 on December 24, 2001.

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In Remembrance of Jimmy Faulkner

Teresa Kelly, friend of Jimmy Faulkner

Teresa Kelly, friend of Jimmy Faulkner

by Teresa Baker Kelly and used by her permission
(from Oxford Town, July 2002, written for the 2002 Faulkner Conference)


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Related Websites

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