Falkner in 1955
Murry C. Falkner
Murry Charles Falkner is best known for his book The Falkners
of Mississippi: A Memoir, published in 1967. Born in Ripley,
Mississippi, on June 26, 1899, the second of Murry Cuthbert and
Maud Butler Falkner's four sons, his family moved to Oxford, Mississippi
in 1905. During World War I he joined the Marines and served as
a private in the American Expeditionary Forces in France, where
he was wounded and received the French Brigade Citation and the
Purple Heart. He earned a law degree from the University of Mississippi
in 1922, and for the next few years served as a lawyer in Oxford
until he took a job as a special agent in the FBI. During World
War II he returned to military service in the Army Counter-Intelligence
Corps, where in north Africa he met, and later married, his future
wife, Suzanne. He retired from the FBI in 1965. He died in Mobile,
Alabama, on December 24, 1975, and was buried in Oxford.
Falkner, the only son of Murry
and Maud not to change the spelling of the family name to "Faulkner,"
was not a professional writer like his brothers William
or John, but after contributing
several sketches to a compilation of personal memoirs on William
Faulkner, he was asked to write a book of his own. As he stated
in the preface to The Falkners of Mississippi, "Having recently
retired after more than thirty years of service as a Special Agent
of the FBI, I decided to try my hand at it to write not only
about Bill but about my other two brothers and myself as well: the
story of a Mississippi family."
In a foreword to the book, Lewis
P. Simpson applauds Falkner for both the effort and the approach.
While he admits the book may disappoint those merely curious about
William Faulkner and his fictional county, Simpson points out that
Falkner's book unlike the other major family memoir, My
Brother Bill, by John Faulkner is free from what he calls
"the tyranny of Yoknapatawpha." Unlike John, who on the day of William's
funeral looked out at the town square and everywhere saw "Bill and
his stories: Oxford, Jefferson, and Lafayette County, Yoknapatawpha,"
Murry's book looks at the original people and places and events
without the distortion of William's fiction. It is, in a sense,
Falkner's memoir is significant
as a basic source into the life of the Fa(u)lkner family, but it
is revealing too as a historical artifact of life in the first half
of the twentieth century. In prose that is oftentimes genteel, at
other times colloquial to the point of being humorous, Falkner paints
a portrait of community, fellowship, and belonging.
Related Links & Info
© The Cofield Collection
Like his brothers, Murry Falkner was a pilot. He is seen here in
Roswell, New Mexico, with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1937.
- The Falkners of Mississippi: A Memoir Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967.
- Selections in William Faulkner of Oxford. Edited by James W. Webb and A. Wigfall Green. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965.
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