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William Faulkner – First Edition Books: Identification Guide

William Faulkner
William Faulkner

William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897 – 1962) was an American writer who is primarily known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life. In general, Faulkner is considered one of the most celebrated writers of American literature and specifically, he is considered one of the best writers of Southern literature.

From the early 1920s to the outbreak of World War II, Faulkner published 13 novels and many short stories. This body of work formed the basis of his reputation and earned him the Nobel Prize at age 52. Faulkner’s prodigious output include celebrated novels such as The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). He was also a prolific writer of short stories.

Faulkner was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature for “his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”. It was awarded at the following year’s banquet along with the 1950 Prize to Bertrand Russell. Faulkner detested the fame and glory that resulted from his recognition. His aversion was so great that his 17-year-old daughter learned of the Nobel Prize only when she was called to the principal’s office during the school day.

He donated part of his Nobel money “to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers”, eventually resulting in the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and donated another part to a local Oxford bank, establishing a scholarship fund to help educate African-American teachers at Rust College in nearby Holly Springs, Mississippi. The government of France made Faulkner a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1951.

William Faulkner was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes for what are considered “minor” novels: his 1954 novel A Fable, which took the Pulitzer in 1955, and the 1962 novel, The Reivers, which was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer in 1963. (The award for A Fable was a controversial political choice. The jury had selected Milton Lott’s The Last Hunt for the prize, but Pulitzer Prize Administrator Professor John Hohenberg convinced the Pulitzer board that Faulkner was long overdue for the award, despite A Fable being a lesser work of his, and the board overrode the jury’s selection, much to the disgust of its members.) He also won the U.S. National Book Award twice, for Collected Stories in 1951 and A Fable in 1955. In 1946 he was one of three finalists for the first Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Award and placed second to Rhea Galati.

William Faulkner – First Editions Identification Guide

Note: This list only includes Faulkner’s novels.

How to Identify First Edition books by William Faulkner Guide
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1926Soldiers' PayBoni & LiverightBoards. "COPYRIGHT 1926 :: BY/BONI & LIVERIGHT, Inc." on © page and Boni & Liveright Seal. No additional printings. Dust jacket price $2.50.
1927MosquitoesBoni & LiverightBoards. "COPYRIGHT 1927 :: BY/BONI & LIVERIGHT, Inc." on © page and Boni & Liveright Seal. No additional printings. Dust Jacket price $2.50.
1929SartorisHarcourt, BraceBoards. "COPYRIGHT, 1929, BY/HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC." on © page. No additional printings.
1929The Sound and the FuryJonathan Cape & Harrison SmithBoards. "COPYRIGHT, 1929 BY WILLIAM FAULKNER,/FIRST PUBLISHED 1929" on © page. First state Dust Jacket has "Humanity Uprooted" priced at $3.00 on the rear panel.
1930As I Lay DyingJonathan Cape & Harrison SmithBoards. "COPYRIGHT, 1930, BY/WILLIAM FAULKNER/FIRST PUBLISHED 1930" on © page. The first edition consisted of 2,522 copies. Two issuess, priority as listed:
  • (A) First 750 copies had a misplaced initial "I" on page 11.
  • (B) The remaining copies, the initial on page 11 is NOT misaligned.
Dust Jacket price of $2.50.
1931SanctuaryJonathan Cape & Harrison SmithBoards. "COPYRIGHT, 1930, BY/WILLIAM FAULKNER/FIRST PUBLISHED 1931" on © page.
1932Light in AugustHarrison Smith & Robert HaasBoards. "COPYRIGHT, 1932, BY WILLIAM FAULKNER/NEW YORK * OCTOBER, 1932 * FIRST PRINTING" on © page. Two bindings, priority as listed:
  • (A) Blue lettering on spine with an orange '*' between title and author's name. Orange lettering on cover.
  • (B) Only blue lettering on spine. No '*' separator.
Dust Jacket price of $2.50 with error to "Lee Christmas" on front flap and Kay Boyle's "Year Before Last" listed on rear panel.
1935PylonHarrison Smith & Robert HaasBoards. Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Limited Edition of 310 copies signed by the author.
  • (B) Trade edition. "FIRST PRINTING, FEBRUARY, 1935/COPYRIGHT, 1935, BY WILLIAM FAULKNER" on the © page. Dust jacket price of $2.50.
1936Absalom, Absalom!Random HouseBoards. Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Limited edition of 300 copies, signed by the author.
  • (B) Trade edition. "Copyright, 1936, by William Faulkner" on the © page, ($2.50). No additional printings. Dust Jacket price of $2.50.
1938The UnvanquishedRandom HouseBoards. "FIRST PRINTING" stated on © page. Dust Jacket price of $2.50.
1939The Wild PalmsRandom HouseBoards. "FIRST PRINTING" stated on the © page. Dust Jacket price of $2.50.
1940The HamletRandom HouseBoards. "First Printing" stated on © page. Dust Jacket price of $2.50.
1942Go Down, MosesRandom HouseBoards. "First Printing" stated on © page. Dust Jacket price of $2.00 with 8 titles listed on rear panel.
1948Intruder in the DustRandom HouseBoards. "FIRST PRINTING" stated on © page. Dust Jacket price of $3.00.
1951Requiem for a NunRandom HouseBoards. Copyright, 1950, 1951, by William Faulkner" on the © page. No additional printings. Top edge stained and "Chocktaw" rather than "Choctaw" on page 21. Dust Jacket price of $3.00, has "E. McKnight Kauffer" misspelled as "M. McKnight Kauffer" on front flap.
1954A FableRandom HouseBoards. Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Limited edition of 1,000 signed copies.
  • (B) Trade edition "First Printing" stated on the © page. Dust Jacket has "8/54" on the bottom of the front flap.
1957The TownRandom HouseBoards. "First Printing" stated on the © page. Line 8 repeated on line 10 of page 327. Dust Jacket price of $3.95 and "5/57" on the bottom of the front flap.
1959The MansionRandom HouseBoards. Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Limited edition of 500 signed copies.
  • (B) Trade edition. "First Printing" stated on the © page. Dust Jacket has "10/59" on the bottom of the front flap and photo of the author on the back with no reviews.
1962The ReiversRandom HouseBoards. "FIRST PRINTING" stated on the © page, top edge stained red and no "book club" blind tamp on the bottom right corner of the back cover. Price of $4.50 on top of the front Dust Jacket flap and "6/62" on the bottom.

William Faulkner – First Printing Dust Jackets Identification Guide

Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of Faulkner’s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.

Reference:

BOOKSTORE: Rare, Antiquarian, First editions, Illustrated Children's Books

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