The William Faulkner Collection
William Faulkner’s choice of a repository for the major manuscripts and personal papers in his possession at the time of his death was the University of Virginia. His stated wish was implemented by the creation of the William Faulkner Foundation to which he arranged to bequeath his papers. They were ultimately transferred to the University under the guiding hand of Faulkner’s friend, Linton R. Massey, donor of the University of Virginia Library’s vast collection of Faulkner first editions, translations and all publications touching on the writer’s life and work. The collection also includes audio recordings of Faulkner’s speaking engagements during his time as writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia.
Dozens of rich collections of manuscripts, typescripts, letters, photographs, documents, books, and other printed materials by and about William Faulkner are held by the library. The bulk of the manuscripts and typescripts of his novels, short stories, and poetry were presented to the University by the William Faulkner Foundation and the outstanding library of printed works by and about Faulkner was presented by Linton R. Massey. The Library holds the largest collection of Faulkner’s manuscripts including holograph and typescript material from nineteen published novels and two unpublished novels. We have the basic holograph manuscript for seven of the novels and in all others some variant form of the typescript, often with holograph corrections. The following description is taken from William Faulkner Manuscripts, 25 vols (New York: Garland, 1986-1987).
Faulkner’s extant papers run to thousands of pages, comprising holograph manuscripts, ribbon and carbon typescripts, corrected and uncorrected galley and page proofs, notes, foul papers, outlines, preliminary and revised drafts, all in varying combinations, for nearly every novel and short story. They have survived in six major repositories and numerous minor collections in public and private hands. The largest and most significant collection is that composed of the papers Faulkner himself kept and subsequently deposited first at the Princeton University Library (1957) and then permanently at the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia (1959); over the years many other significant materials have been deposited at Virginia by Jill Faulkner Summers, Faulkner’s daughter, donated by collector Linton Massey and other benefactors, and purchased from a variety of sources by the Library itself. It is an astonishingly rich collection containing typescript setting copies (or carbons of such copies) of all the novels (except The Unvanquished) from The Sound and the Fury onward, complete holograph manuscripts of Flags in the Dust, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Light in August, and The Wild Palms, and early typescript versions of Soldiers’ Pay, Mosquitoes, and Flags in the Dust. The collection’s comprehensiveness, however, goes far beyond these documents, important as they are. It also preserves typescripts and manuscripts of many of Faulkner’s stories and essays; galley and page proofs, revised and unrevised, of many of the novels; and numerous letters, photographs, and drawings.
Added to the above is now the holograph manuscript of a major portion of Mosquitoes.
The Massey Collection is a masterpiece of collecting. Joseph Blotner, Faulkner’s biographer, described Mr. Massey in the printed catalog to an exhibit honoring him entitled Man Collecting, Manuscripts and Printed Works of William Faulkner in the University of Virginia Library as follows:
Linton Reynolds Massey began forming his collection more than forty years ago (1936). It would please him to see it exhibited as it is here now. Even though he held the design in his mind over the years, gradually selecting and adding with skill and persistence to make the dream a reality, it might take even him aback to see the extent of this achievement–displayed so clearly and annotated so carefully–which is his monument. It would give him enormous satisfaction to see the new additions to it, to know that his own goals for the collection, shared so long by the University of Virginia Library, are being implemented through the devotion and care of its expert staff and generous friends. He was a modest man, but I think he would be pleased too to see his name linked as it is here with that of his friend, William Faulkner. Linton Massey had many gifts. Among them was his talent as a literary critic. He saw early and clearly how brilliant was the work of his fellow Southerner and how lasting his achievement would be. Had it not been for this perception he could not have begun in time the labor that would make this the greatest of all Faulkner collections. So it is that his own devotion to art is memorialized here with that of William Faulkner.
Joan St. C. Crane in that same publication describes the collection thusly,
“When Linton R. Massey placed his extraordinary collection of the printed works of William Faulkner in the University of Virginia Library as an absolute gift in 1960, his stated policy for future acquisition was explicit. The orientation and development of the collection was to be essentially bibliographical: a physical history of each title from the day of publication to the most recent reprinting of texts with every idiosyncrasy of binding or dust jacket or textual variant represented. Following this primary objective was to be acquisition of all foreign editions and translations of each title. Mr. Massey devoted his collecting life to this bibliographical ideal with notable success, as the world-wide reputation of the University of Virginia Faulkner collection attests. It is internationally known as the most extensive and complete accumulation of books by and about William Faulkner ever amassed.”
The best inventory to the Massey-Faulkner collection is by Mr. Massey himself entitled William Faulkner: “Man Working” 1919-1962: A Catalogue of the William Faulkner Collections at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Library, 1976). The catalog contains over 3000 entries noting Faulkner’s novels, short stories, verse, essays and articles, criticism, public addresses, interviews and related material, letters, collected works, recordings, drawings and other ephemera, typescripts and holograph material not otherwise catalogued and works about Faulkner such as criticism and commentary, biographical, anecdotal, and topical material, photographs and drawings.
In 1957, William Faulkner came to the University as its first Writer-in-Residence. While writer-in-Residence at the University, William Faulkner became aware of the Massey collection of his works, and despite his native diffidence and pretended unconcern, this awareness undoubtedly contributed to his wish, reaffirmed by his wife and daughter, to have his manuscripts and typescripts made available at the University of Virginia, where they might serve to supplement and complement a rather more than adequate representation of his life’s work. He accepted reappointment for the year 1957-58. Continuing his service to the University, he accepted appointment as Consultant on American Literature to the Alderman Library. Then, in 1961 he was elected Balch Lecturer in American Literature, a position which he held until his death.
He met dozens of classes and other University and town groups, reading from his works and answering all manner of questions about them and a wide range of other topics as well. He held conferences with students and participated in the life of the University from classroom to athletic field. By the end of his first year of association with the University, he had be- come a resident of Albemarle County, dividing his time between Mississippi and Virginia. Faulkner’s first connection with the University had taken place in the autumn of 1931 when he attended the Southern Writer’s Conference in Charlottesville under the direction of James Southall Wilson.
There are no restrictions on access to the Library’s microfilms of the William Faulkner manuscripts in its custody; the microfilm may be consulted by any interested party, and it will be lent through the interlibrary loan system. Long-term loans may be arranged. Use of the microfilm will be restricted to the premises of the borrowing library. No loans will be made to individuals. Researchers should enquire concerning availability of microfilm of manuscripts that are pertinent to their work. Most of the literary manuscripts in our collections written by Faulkner, both holograph and typescript, have also been published in facsimile in the above-mentioned William Faulkner Manuscripts, 25 vols (New York: Garland, 1986-1987).
By the terms of the agreement by which the William Faulkner Foundation transferred the original manuscripts to the University, access to the original manuscripts is restricted (to ensure the survival of the physically-delicate originals) to doctoral candidates at the dissertation stage of their programs, and to certain mature scholars and critics. But even these researchers must demonstrate need to see the originals that goes beyond the requirements of most routine research. A doctoral candidate at the dissertation stage, or other qualified researcher who believes that his or her work requires access to the originals must obtain permission from the Director of Special Collections prior to arriving at the Library; please use our online form to make your request or write to:
Molly Schwartzburg, Curator
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400110
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4110
Please note that W.W. Norton holds copyright to all of Faulkner’s published works. If you would like to publish images in print or online of original manuscript materials from our collection that pertain to these published works, including holograph drafts and typescripts, please contact:
Ms. Claire Reinertsen
W. W. Norton & Company Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10110
For permission to quote from or publish images in print or online of any of Faulkner’s unpublished works or correspondence, please contact:
Picture Entertainment Corporation
8332 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, California 90069
Copies of materials in the William Faulkner Collection may be requested in accordance with our normal policies and procedures for reproductions.