After decades on deposit at the university library, Faulkner’s awards were returned to to the family of William Faulkner.
After 60 years on deposit at J.D. Williams Library, William Faulkner’s 1951 Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur and the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature have been returned to the Faulkner family upon request.
Faulkner family members, namely William Faulkner’s grandchildren, have explained to the university that after years of allowing the awards to remain on deposit, they want Faulkner’s awards to be returned. Once returned, the awards are to be auctioned off by the family.
These two awards, along with some of Faulkner’s original manuscripts are expected to be auctioned by Sotheby’s of New York.
Along with the two awards, Faulkner’s Nobel handwritten acceptance speech draft and diploma are also included in the estate package. Other items to be auctioned include 26 letters and postcards sent by Faulkner, 25 leather-bound columns of the author’s work, along with manuscripts of “The Trapper Story,” “Vision in Spring,” “Mammy Callie,” and “Hog Pawn.”
“The Trapper Story” manuscript is an unpublished work, and “Vision in Spring” was thought to have been lost, according to Sotheby’s representatives.
According to Sotheby’s, the unit of Faulkner memorabilia is expected to fetch close to $2 million at the June 11 auction.
The Nobel Prize alone is said to be valued at $500,000, according to Julia Rholes, dean of university libraries.
Rholes said this amount exceeds the library’s available funds, so purchasing the item is not a realistic possibility.
However, Rholes hopes that one of the friends of the university will want the see the awards back on display.
“We’re a little hopeful that someone will want the medal to come back here, that is our greatest hope,” Rholes said.
Faulkner’s Nobel Prize was put on display shortly after it was awarded to him, and was displayed in Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library until its removal last month, and Rholes said that the medal was important for the community.
“It was won by a Mississippian who lived and worked in this town,” Rholes said.
Many of the library staff members, including senior English major and library worker Jessica Gradolf, said they feel that the loss of these awards is a disappointment.
“The library held them [the awards] dear, but you can’t deny his kids,” Gradolf said.
Librarian in the archives and special collections department Kathryn Michaelis said she understands the importance of the awards and what they mean to the university.
“It’s sad that we could not have them longer, but we didn’t own them –– they were here on deposit,” Michaelis said.
“But we are honored to have them as long as we did.”