William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897, and frequently used his familiar Southern surroundings as the setting for many of his works. Faulkner was an American novelist and poet that became well-known for his works that included The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, his 1931 novel Sanctuary, and his many poems. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1955 and 1963, and the National Book Award for Fiction in both 1951 and 1955. Many of his novels were set in the American South and centered around themes of man’s capacity for evil, the decline of the South, nature, and primitivism vs. civilization.
Upon arriving in New Orleans in 1924, Faulkner spent the beginning of his stay with Sherwood Anderson. Shortly after, Faulkner moved into the first floor of the 624 Pirate’s Alley building with the famous artist and silver designer William Spratling. Although only living in New Orleans for a short six months in 1925, William Faulkner’s work from then on was inspired by and contained elements of the New Orleans vibe.
It was in his first-floor apartment – located behind the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square – that William Faulkner began working on the draft of his first novel Soldiers’ Pay in 1925, that would then be published in 1926. It was also here that Faulkner and William Spratling produced a book called Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles, that satirized Miguel Covarrubias' The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans. During his stay, Faulkner published multiple essays for the local magazine The Double Dealer, as well as character sketches for the Times-Picayune.
In 1926, Faulkner left New Orleans for Paris and resided at Le Grand Hôtel des Principautés Unies for some months. Faulkner later returned to New Orleans and began using the advice that he received from Sherwood Anderson to write about the places that Faulkner knew – places such as his native Mississippi and New Orleans. Faulkner’s Mosquitoes, The Wild Palms, and Absalom! Absalom! were all inspired by the South, especially New Orleans and various places in Mississippi.
The 624 Pirate’s Alley building was purchased and established as Faulkner House Books in 1990 by attorney Joseph J. DeSalvo and Rosemary James. The bookstore houses literary works of Southern writers such as Tennessee Williams, Walker Percy, and Eudora Welty, as well as holding rare editions of fine literature. The Pirate Alley’s Faulkner Society – which is a place for men and women to volunteer and organize events that focus on writing and literary programming for readers and writers – was established in 1990 by Faulkner scholar W. Kenneth Holditch, James, and DeSalvo. Faulkner House Books has frequented news media and traveling blogs over the years, as well as being dubbed as National Literary Landmark.