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Oxford’s Artistic Lure

John Cofield's Oxford and Ole Miss –– The Irresistible Artistic Lure of OxfordOxford draws artists of all kinds from around the country. Whether they come to study at Ole Miss, work in Oxford or to see Faulkner’s hometown, they stay. And as with Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, a novel that won The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, they all end up with two things in common: Oxford and work that is “so Mississippi.”

Thomas G. Franklin was born in the small Southern town of Dickinson, Alabama in 1963. In 1981, he moved with his family to Mobile, Alabama, and later attended the University of South Alabama in Mobile, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

After graduating from the University of South Alabama, Franklin earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction at the University of Arkansas in 1998. One year later, he returned to the University of South Alabama to teach. The fall of the same year, he became the Phillip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Next, he moved to Knox College, where he held the position of visiting Writer-in-Residence. In 2000, Franklin moved to Oxford, Mississippi, as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss. While there, he instructed both undergraduate and graduate students in a two-semester fiction writing course.

“Then I was offered the John and Renee Grisham Chair in Creative Writing in Oxford, Mississippi,” Franklin says. “We moved there, planning to return to Galesburg, but never have. Beth Ann was offered a job at Ole Miss (as a member of the English Department) and they named me an ongoing writer-in-residence –– and there we remain to this day.”

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