- Rommel’s Peace (2013)
- Let the Band Play Dixie (1989)
- Rommel and the Rebel (1986)
- William Faulkner: The Cofield Collection (editor)
Lawrence Wells was born September 14, 1941, in Ozark, Alabama. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). He taught English at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. Wells has a son, also Laurence Wells to his first wife. After his divorce, he married Dean Faulkner (Wells), the niece of William Faulkner and daughter of Faulkner’s youngest brother Dean. She died in 2011. In 1975 the Dean and Laurence founded the Yoknapatawpha Press, a Southern regional small press located in Oxford, Mississippi, which publishes works by Southern writers and which also issued from 1981 to 2001 the Faulkner Newsletter & Yoknapatawpha Review. Wells, in addition to running the publishing company, writes novels, writes for magazines, and composes screenplays and telescripts. He is known as Larry or, (according to Willie Morris) as Boss. Wells and his wife Dean were instrumental in raising money to bring Willie Morris to Ole Miss as writer-in-residence.
Wells got the idea for his first novel, Rommel and the Rebel, from an article he read about a Civil War Roundtable in Jackson, Mississippi, where Jack Maxey, a retired lieutenant colonel, gave a lecture comparing Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s tactics to those of Nathan Bedford Forrest as well as from some research he had done into World War II. The novel tells of a fictional trip made by German tank commander Erwin Rommel to the Civil War battlefields of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Wells got the idea for the book by reading a press account of a visit five unnamed German military men made to Mississippi in the late 1930s. Well says it was “uncanny the way they (Forrest and Rommel) thought alike and used the same tactics.” Interestingly, Wells also has William Faulkner appear by name as an important character in the novel. His wife Dean gave him permission to use “Pappy” as she called him (“Mr. Bill” as Wells called him). Dean’s mother, Louise, said that when she read the novel she could hear Faulkner’s voice.
According to Publishers Weekly, Wells, in his second novel, Let the Band Play Dixie, “combines real-life people and fictional characters, all of whom meet in Gettysburg at an unorthodox football game that accrues unintended symbolic meaning.” A review in Library Journal describes the novel as a story: “Based on events surrounding the first North-South All-Star Football Game played in Philadelphia in 1896, this novel is one part history and three parts fun. Organized by less-than-scrupulous speculators, the event attracts a coterie of gamblers intent on games of chance, scores of Civil War veterans intent on a symbolic rematch, and a black football team, with its female coach, intent on playing for the South.”
Laurence Wells’ third novel, Rommel’s Peace, published in 2013 is a sequel to Wells’s first novel, Rommel and the Rebel. It is based on historical evidence but is also a speculative look into what might have been. In a review, Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump states “Had Rommel’s ceasefire been allowed to flower, the dreadful casualties of D-Day might have been avoided, and the course of history forever changed.”
In 1983, Wells edited Football Powers of the South, coffee table book containing twelve chapters of historical photos of twelve leading Southern university football programs including Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU, SMU, Tennessee, Texas, UNC and Vanderbilt.
Laurence Wells continues to live in Oxford, Mississippi.
- Memphis magazine has article Following in the Fa(u)lkners’ footsteps by Leonard Gill, 2011 (review of wife Dean’s memoir
- Ole Miss site has brief biography of Wells
- Obituary for Dean Faulkner Wells, wife of Laurence
- Wells’s son is artist in Prague whose book is entitled Laurence Wells Bohemian