Saturday, December 4, 2021

John Cofield's Oxford and Ole Miss: Welty, Faulkner and the Real Gold

Photo credit: Sidney J. Waintrob – Budd Studios, New York

Eudora Welty presented William Faulkner with the Gold Medal for Fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters on May 24, 1962 in New York. It was the last trip the Nobel Laureate would take out of Mississippi. He passed away six weeks later.

“Mr. Faulkner, I think this medal, being pure of its kind, the real gold, would go to you of its own accord,” Welty said, “and know its owner regardless of whether we were all here to see or not. Safe as a puppy it would climb into your pocket …”
Welty was fond of telling the story that the medal was indeed already in Faulkner’s pocket as she spoke. She had passed it to him during dinner and presented an empty box.

John Cofield is a writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer, Jack Cofield. His grandfather, J.R. “Colonel” Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was the Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well.
Check out Cofield’s new book: Oxford, Mississippi ~ The Cofield Collection — a pictorial history book with John’s writing on the history to go along with the photos.
Contact John at