- Beat Six (published posthumously in 1999)
- My Brother Bill: An Affectionate Reminiscence. (1963) (non-fiction)
- Uncle Good’s Weekend Party (1960)
- Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (1959)
- The Sin Shouter of Cabin Road (1955)
- Uncle Good’s Girls (1952)
- Cabin Road (1951)
- Chooky (1950)
- Dollar Cotton (1942)
- Men Working (1941)
By Claire Harden (SHS)
John Faulkner, born John Wesley Thompson Falkner, III, is another of Mississippi’s important authors. He, like his brother William Faulkner, is a talented writer, but John has been somewhat in William’s shadow. John was born on the twenty-fourth of September in 1901 in Ripley, Mississippi. (Lives) His parents, Murry Cuthbert and Maud Butler Falkner, had four children; John was their third child. His brothers were William Faulkner (September 25, 1897 -July 6, 1962); Murry Charles “Jack” Falkner (June 26, 1899–December 24, 1975); and Dean Swift Falkner (August 15, 1907–November 10, 1935). The family moved to Oxford, Mississippi, in 1905.
During his lifetime, John Faulkner (he changed the spelling of his last name as did his brother William) worked at various occupations. He was an assistant city engineer for Greenville, MS, a project engineer for the Mississippi State Highway Department when he lived in Greenwood, MS, a commercial airline pilot living in Memphis; and in 1938, he became the manager of his brother William’s farm, called Greenfield. (John Faulkner) The farm was approximately seventeen miles from Oxford, Mississippi. While managing this farm, John became very familiar with people who differed from those he had known in the small town where he grew up. His contact with the rural farmers he had come to know provided him the beginning ideas for his first writings. He formed the basis of his first novel, Beat Six, through this experience. This novel, however, was not published until after his death. Hill Street Press published it in 2003. One of his earliest published works is an historical essay, “The Mississippi Hill Country.” During World War II, Faulkner served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. After the war he earned his living by writing, lecturing, and painting
John Faulkner attended college at Ole Miss, where he received a B.S. degree in civil engineering (Profiles). He married Lucille “Dolly” Ramey Faulkner in 1922. They had two sons, Jimmy Faulkner (July 18, 1923–December 24, 2001) and Murry Falkner (born February 22, 1928-1975). Both also were writers.
John Faulkner’s first published novel was called Men Working. It was published in 1941. In 1942 Faulkner published Dollar Cotton. His third novel, called Chooky, whose protagonist Chooky is a composite of Faulkner’s two sons, Jimmy and Murry, was published in 1950. John also published short stories in magazines like Colliers. Critics have compared Faulkner’s works to the style of Erskine Caldwell because both writers have a somewhat ordinary, simplistic style. When the writings of John Faulkner are compared to his brother’s, (Nobel Prize-winning William Faulkner), few similarities are found. John was influenced very little by his brother. In 1951, John’s career took an unfortunate twist at a very inopportune time. His publishing company rejected one of his novels at approximately the same time that his brother received the Nobel Peace Prize (Lives). This situation created a block that John could not overcome. Soon after this rejection, another company saw potential in his novel and agreed to publish it. John called this novel Side Road.
His last book, My Brother Bill: An Affectionate Reminiscence, was in memory of William, who died in July of 1962 (Lives). Faulkner’s nephew Jimmy Faulkner, wrote an introduction for the memoir. Not long after the completion of the work, John Faulkner died on March 28, 1963. (Profiles) John Faulkner has never been viewed as a significant figure in literary history, possibly because he grew up in the shadow of his brother’s fame. However, his works, though in plain style, accurately depict life in early Mississippi.
John Faulkner was also a self-taught painter (his mother also painted) and did a series of paintings called The Vanishing South.
- 1901 – Born in Ripley, Mississippi
- 1941–Published Men Working
- 1942–Published Dollar Cotton
- 1950–Published Chooky
- 1951 – Rejection of one of his novels; brother William wins the Nobel Peace Prize, Cabin Road published
- 1962 – My Brother Bill published after death of William Faulkner in July of 1962
- 1963 – John Faulkner dies on March 28
A Review of excerpt from My Brother Bill
by Claire Hardin, SHS
My Brother Bill, John Faulkner’s last work, is a sweet memory of his childhood that takes the reader back to the carefree days of youth, when else nothing in the world mattered. It was written in honor of his brother, William Faulkner, after his death in 1962. The story takes place in their hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. After only being able to read an excerpt from this book from Dorothy Abbott’s Mississippi Writers I was amazed at how familiar I became with his style of writing. This story has a very simplistic style and focuses on the simple pleasures of childhood. It begins with a description of the preparation for the town carnival, which is enjoyed by people of all ages. Through Faulkner’s detailed descriptions, the reader can sense the feelings of joy and anticipation as though he were at the carnival himself. It is written in first person, with the author narrating. Throughout the carnival, Faulkner describes the activities, sights, and sounds from the eyes of a little boy. The main attraction at the carnival is the balloonist, also referred to as the “balloonatic.” Everyone gathers around to watch him sail into the air, and shortly after, to him fall back down again. This event seems to be the highlight of the carnival, especially for the children, who watch in awe and wonder as this crazy man’s feet are lifted into the air by a huge gas filled balloon.
This short chapter from the novel ends in John Faulkner’s backyard, where he watches his father become very angry because the balloonist has landed in the chicken pen. It is evident in this story that Faulkner thought very highly of his family and always watched them as a child to see their reactions to certain situations. He makes it clear in his writing that he had a certain fascination with William, his brother that he called Bill. The brothers were very different growing up; John looked up to him and respected him greatly. I really enjoyed reading this short excerpt and would love to continue reading his works. Part of what makes this story so amusing is its ability to awaken the child that is still somewhere inside all of us. This excerpt from Faulkner’s last novel possesses a sweet innocence and gives the reader a chance to see the world through the eyes of a child once again.
- Cox, James L., “Profiles of Famous and Notable Mississippians: John Faulkner.”, Mississippi Almanac: 1997-98., Yazoo City, Ms: Computer Search and Research, 1997. 135-138.
- Lloyd, James B., Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817-1967., Jackson, Mississippi: The University Press of Mississippi, 1981. 164.
- “John Faulkner”.[online] Available/http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/faulkner_john/, 4-15-99.