Carl Rollyson discusses his new biography of William Faulkner via Zoom

June 4th, 2020 - 5:00 pm

Faulkner biographer to join online discussion on June 4

The History Book Festival and the Lewes Public Library will present Carl Rollyson discussing volume I of his new biography of one of America’s most famous authors, “The Life of William Faulkner: The Past Is Never Dead, 1897–1934,” on Thursday, June 4, at 5 p.m. This event on the online meeting platform Zoom is free, but registration is required: log onto and click on Virtual Programs for Adults. Registrants will be sent instructions on how to join the discussion prior to the event.

Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, Mississippi author William Faulkner has been the subject of numerous biographies but in many ways has remained a paradoxical figure. He wrote some of the greatest novels in American literature while also turning out Hollywood screenplays and stories for popular magazines. He presented himself as a renegade artist but was also a dedicated family man.

In this first volume of a new biography, Rollyson follows Faulkner from his formative years through his introduction to Hollywood, giving us new insights into the writer’s family life and his marriage to Estelle Oldman. Rollyson conducted extensive interviews with Faulkner’s family and friends, and he had access to primary and secondary source materials, some unseen by previous biographers. Rollyson argues that the totality of Faulkner’s screenplays, fiction, and life are still relevant when examining issues of race, sexuality, and equality today.

A professor emeritus of journalism at Baruch College at the City University of New York, Rollyson has published 14 biographies of literary figures such as Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Lillian Hellman, Amy Lowell, Rebecca West, and Norman Mailer.

Rollyson will be interviewed by Lawrence Wells. A native Mississippian, Wells has written three novels and edited six nonfiction books, including “William Faulkner: The Cofield Collection.” With his late wife Dean Faulkner Wells (William Faulkner’s niece), he operated Yoknapatawpha Press, an independent press in Oxford, Mississippi, and co-published a quarterly journal, “The Faulkner Newsletter.” Wells’ own book, “In Faulkner’s Shadow,” a memoir of life in his wife’s family amidst the literary milieu of Oxford, will be published in September.

Copies of volume 1 of “The Life of William Faulkner” are available from Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, the official bookseller of the History Book Festival. Browseabout is conducting business via phone (302-226-2665, 10–4 daily) and web (

This event is a joint effort of the History Book Festival, the Lewes Public Library, Delaware Division of Libraries, and Sussex County Libraries.

The History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history. Led by a volunteer board and funded in part by tax-deductible contributions through the Greater Lewes Foundation, the festival’s organizers believe in the power of history, literature and civil dialogue to influence the future for the better. For additional information, visit

The Lewes Public Library anticipates the needs of the community and adapts, creates and supports classes and programs for all ages that encourage a love of reading, exploration and discovery. The library provides access for a wide variety of educational, informational and recreational materials to all members of the community through traditional resources and emerging technologies. For more information, visit

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