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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2002

Man accused of stealing Faulkner letters

Dec. 4, 2002

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A former lawyer previously convicted of stealing rare documents has turned himself in to face charges of taking six William Faulkner letters from a university.

Robert Hardin Smith, 43, of Jacksonville, is accused of taking the Nobel laureate author’s letters from Southeast Missouri State University’s rare book room and selling them to a Texas manuscript dealer.

He turned himself in Monday and was charged with theft of property. He is expected to be sent to Cape Girardeau, Mo., where the theft occurred.

Smith had earlier been convicted of the 1996 theft of historic letters from the University of Kansas library, including three signed by Civil War-era raid leader William Quantrill. He also was convicted of stealing manuscripts from the University of Arkansas, and served nearly two years in prison for that crime before being paroled in 1999.

Southeast Missouri State University police said a man who signed in at the book room as “R. Smith” viewed the Faulkner letters Sept. 30. Officials learned the letters were missing Nov. 11, after a Faulkner collector discovered they were being sold on the Internet.

Prosecutors said Smith sold the letters to a manuscript dealer who later told police that the man said he had inherited them from his grandmother’s estate.

All six letters have been recovered, school officials said.

Related web sites
The Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University
The Brodsky Collection at Southeast Missouri State University
Articles about stolen letters from the Southeast Missourian newspaper (


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