A late October trip to the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's annual conference in Oxford, Mississippi,provided an opportune time to visit the well-preserved home and estate of renowned American novelist and one-time Hollywood screenplay writer William Faulkner. Faulkner purchased the home in 1930, dubbing the place "Rowan Oak." The namesake rowan tree is said to be a symbol of safety and security.
The home, built in 1844 and designed in a Greek Rival style, was a place of security for the sometimes reclusive and, seemingly, always cantankerous or, perhaps, curmudgeonly, Faulkner. He certainly had a sense of wry humor and was, supposedly, fond of placing snakes in guest rooms or telling a fictional tales about ghosts in the house, including one of a young woman who hurled herself off the second floor balcony at the front of the home.
Now owned and managed by the University of Mississippi since 1972, visitors are able to tour the grounds from dawn to dusk for free and wander around the home's interior for $5. Hours vary upon the season.
Faulkner's works won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, as his novel "A Fable," garnered the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1954. Most of his work was done in a small, downstairs office with a desk overlooking the yard and its many beautiful magnolia trees. He wrote the plot line of A Fable' along the walls of his office study.
Outbuildings include a detached kitchen that was eventually converted by Faulkner into a smokehouse, a post oak barn, servant's quarters and more.
It takes about 90 minutes to roam around and check out the interior rooms and exhibit displays. While leaving the property and heading back to the car, I stopped and picked up a couple fallen, dried magnolia leaves from one of the largest trees near the front of the house. One now sits in an empty coffee cup atop my own writing desk. I'm waiting for them to "talk to me..."