James Murry Falkner was born in Oxford on July 18, 1923. Jimmy, as he was called by his family and friends, later changed the spelling of his name to Faulkner, adding the “u” as did his famous Uncle William Faulkner and his father John Faulkner. Like other famous Faulkners, Jimmy liked to fly. During World War II as a Marine fighter pilot in the Pacific, his plane was shot down. He also flew combat missions in the Korean war. He earned an engineering degree in 1947, and then ran a construction company in Oxford until he retired in 1983.
Jimmy Faulkner’s literary importance is significant primarily because, until his death in December of 2001, he was a living source of information about William Faulkner, whom Jimmy resembled. After William Faulkner’s death in July 1962, and John Faulkner’s death (Jimmy’s father) the following year, Jimmy became the head and spokesman for the Faulkner family. He often gave talks and answered questions about his famous literary relatives. He even played the role of Major de Spain (pictured here) in William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” which was made on the Towery Farm in Oxford for PBS.
Jimmy Faulkner describes his taking William Faulkner to the hospital the night before he died in the new introduction to his father’s book My Brother Bill. He writes, “I checked him in, and stayed with him until about 10 that night. When I was ready to leave, I went to his bedside, reached down and took his hand. I told him, ‘Brother Will, when you’re ready to come home, let me know and I’ll come get you.’ He said “Yes, Jim, I will.” He never got home alive. He died around 2 in the morning on July 6, 1962.
*Source: Mississippi Writers and Musicians
*Photo: Deborah Freeland