Visiting Faulkner’s Home on Mississippi Writers Trail

The Mississippi Writers Trail is a statewide initiative celebrating Mississippi’s place in the literary world. One of the stops is the home of William Faulkner in Oxford.

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Home in Oxford, Mississippi, Oct. 2019
Front Entrance of Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 2019.

This is Rowan Oak

Standing at the entrance of Rowan Oak’s balcony, I looked down at the red-brick pathway leading up to the entrance. Tall Eastern red cedar trees lined the walkway, offering shade from the autumn sunshine. I stood wondering about whose footsteps I had walked and waited for literary greatness to zap me.

Meanwhile, my friend and fellow outdoor writer Ken Perrotte of Virginia (check out Ken’s Outdoors Rambler), wondered how a young woman flung herself and plunged to her death from that spot. She was the daughter of the mansion’s builder and this tragedy happened sometime during the mid-1800s. At least, that’s what a sign inside the antebellum home stated.

We both agreed, it was not a great distance to fall and cause a fatal injury. I surmise the home’s famous owner’s spun the lore. Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss., is the home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner. He lived there with his family between 1930 and until his death in 1962 at the age of 64.

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Home in Oxford, Mississippi, Oct. 2019
The Grounds of Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 2019.

The World of William Faulkner

Built in the 1840s, Faulkner purchased the home and its four acres, then called “The Bailey Place,” in 1930. The author changed the name to Rowan Oak in 1931 after the rowan tree, which is a symbol representing protection. Soon after, he acquired surrounding land. Today, the Rowan Oak estate is more than 29 acres including a wooded area called Bailey’s Woods.

Faulkner was famous for writing in a stream-of-consciousness method and safeguarding his privacy. He loved the property. His “little postage stamp of soil,” is how he described Oxford. Rowan Oak was Faulkner’s home, sanctuary, and writing location. Oxford, Southern culture, and his upbringing in the South served as inspiration for books as Intruder in the Dust and A Fable, which he won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1955. The Pulitzer Prize was awarded posthumously in 1963 for the 1962 novel, The Reivers. Prior to both awards, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950.

Penning award-winning novels was not (and today, is still not) financially profitable as he liked so he worked on Hollywood scripts. Some of his motion picture screenwriting credits include To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, both starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Home in Oxford, Mississippi, Oct. 2019
Outline of The Fable in Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s Home in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 2019.

Faulkner’s Legacy Lives on at Rowan Oak

Jill Faulkner Summers, the author’s daughter, sold the house to the University of Mississippi in 1972 so people may learn about Faulkner and his writings. The grounds include the house, detached kitchen/smokehouse, barn, servants’ quarters, stable, remnants of a concentric circle garden, and the sunken patio built for his daughter Jill’s wedding.

When touring the estate, look in Faulkner’s study. Using graphite and red grease pencils, the author wrote on two walls the outline for A Fable. He apparently taped pages of the outline to the wall but a fan blew the pages away. To prevent that from happening again, he wrote on the walls. Estelle, his wife, was not happy with his choice in wall décor. She had the walls repainted. Faulkner had the final say and rewrote the outline then shellacked the walls where they remain today.

Walk the grounds in front of the home to see remnants of the concentric circle garden. Bricks protrude from the ground and some are being swallowed by magnolia tree roots. If you are up for a leisurely stroll, follow the Bailey’s Woods Trail to University of Mississippi. Faulkner regularly walked the 3/5-mile trail to the Ole Miss campus.

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Home in Oxford, Mississippi, Oct. 2019
Mississippi Writers Trail Marke in Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s Home in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 2019.

Mississippi Writers Trail

Rowan Oak was named a National Historic Landmark in 1977. In October 2019, it received a marker solidifying its official spot in the first chapter of the new Mississippi Writers Trail. The trail was introduced the summer of 2018.

Mississippi has seen success with their other cultural heritage trails as the Blues, Country Music, and Freedom Trails. The Writers Trail guides visitors to spots where influential writers lived, were inspired, and worked. Honorees are selected by an advisory committee with recommendations by literary scholars.

At publication time, there are seven markers in the Mississippi Writers Trail. In addition to William Faulkner and Rowan Oak, visit the haunts of Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker in Jackson, Shelby Foote and Walker Percy in Greenville, Elizabeth Spencer in Carrollton, and Tennessee Williams in Clarksdale. Additional markers across the state will be added over the years.

A Biography About William Faulkner by Joseph Blotner Spotted in Rowan Oak.

Get It Down. Take Chances.

As a writer, I’m tickled the Magnolia State is curating the Writers Trail. The visit to Rowan Oak and Oxford refueled my literary spark and imagine it will inspire others to write their story. Although I do not have plans for writing the outline of a book on my office walls, I’ll heed a bit of William Faulkner’s advice.

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything good.”

Nuts & Bolts for Visiting the Mississippi Writers Trail

Oxford is about an hour’s drive from Tupelo Regional Airport and 90-minute drive from Memphis. I flew from Tampa into Memphis on Southwest Airlines.

Visit Oxford MS

1013 Jackson Avenue East
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662) 232-2477
www.visitoxfordms.com

Home of William Faulkner – Rowan Oak

916 Old Taylor Rd.
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662) 234-3284
www.rowanoak.com
Rowan Oak is open year-round and the grounds are open from dawn to dusk. The home is open during specific hours and closed for major holidays.
Hours:
Summer Hours: June 1 – Aug. 1, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday 1 – 6 p.m.
Non-Summer Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday 1 – 4 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Admission is $5 per person, cash only.
Visitors with disabilities, tours, and school groups are encouraged to call and make advance arrangements.

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's Home in Oxford, Mississippi, Oct. 2019
Bricks Popping Out of the Ground Around Magnolia Roots at Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 2019.

Mississippi Writers Trail

www.visitmississippi.org/writerstrail
The Mississippi Writers Trail is an initiative of the Mississippi Arts Commission, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Mississippi, Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Humanities Council, Visit Mississippi, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Library Commission.

Square Books

160 Courthouse Square
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662)236-2262
www.squarebooks.com
A booklover’s dream. Find three bookstores 100 feet apart.

Thacker Mountain Radio Hour

Off Square Books
129 Courthouse Square
Oxford, Miss. 38655
www.thackermountain.com
Every Thursday, the weekly live radio show broadcasts at 6 p.m. from Off Square Books featuring author readings and musical performances. Free admission for the live broadcast.

Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference

Since 1972, scholars, teachers, students, and everyone else who loves William Faulkner work, come together in July for the Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The 2020 conference is will be July 19-23, 2020, with the theme, “Faulkner’s Modernisms.” Learn more: www.outreach.olemiss.edu/events/faulkner

Where to Stay

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Oxford
105 Ed Perry Boulevard
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662) 238-3522
www.marriott.com

Where to Eat

City Grocery
152 Courthouse Square
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662) 232-8080
www.citygroceryonline.com/city-grocery/
Lunch and Dinner: Monday – Saturday
Brunch: Sunday

Saint Leo
1101 Jackson Avenue East
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Tel: (662) 380 5141
www.eatsaintleo.com
Lunch and Dinner: Wednesday – Monday, Closed Tuesdays

Photos on Flickr

Rowan Oak, Oxofrd, Mississippi

Dislcosure

This post contains Amazon affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my speical-needs dog.

Advertisements

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.