Posted June 16, 2014 by in Literary Travels

Rowan Oak: Home of William Faulkner

William Faulkner's home Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi.

William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford, Mississippi.

Rowan Oak is the family home of William Faulkner, one of the most famous Southern authors to ever put pen to paper. Rowan Oak welcomes thousands of visitors each year. A visit to Faulkner’s home offers a rare glimpse into the life of a very private man.

Sitting in the midst of 29 acres in Oxford, Mississippi, Rowan Oak is a beautiful two-story home built in 1844. When Faulkner purchased the house in 1930, it was in sad shape, but over the years, Faulkner was able to use some of his strained finances for renovation. In this house, Faulkner and his wife, Estelle, raised Malcolm and Victoria, Estelle’s two children from a previous marriage, as well as their own daughter Jill, born in 1933. Faulkner and Estelle also had a daughter named Alabama, who died shortly after her birth in 1931.

Author William Faulkner. Picture from www.npr.org.

Author William Faulkner. Picture from www.npr.org.

Faulkner named the home “Rowan Oak” after being inspired by a Scottish legend. According to the legend, the rowan tree provides protective powers. No rowan trees are on the estate, but the walkway leading to the house is lined on either side with red cedars. Based on a belief from the 1800s, cedars were often planted in an effort to keep yellow fever at bay. The cedars may have been planted for that reason.

The front parlor in Rowan Oak.

The front parlor in Rowan Oak.

The house is filled with Faulkner’s belongings and has been preserved in much the same state as when the great man lived there. While all of the rooms are open for viewing, two rooms may be of special interest to visitors. Faulkner converted an upstairs room into his office, and on the walls of the room, he outlined the plot of his novel A Fable. Those notes can still be seen today. Downstairs between the dining room and kitchen is a pantry area where the telephone of the home was once located. The Faulkners wrote their phone messages, which are still visible, on the pantry walls.

Faulkner wrote the outline for his novel on the walls of his writing room.

Faulkner wrote the outline for his novel A Fable on the walls of his office.

Outside on the grounds of the estate, visitors will notice several outbuildings. Of these, one is a small house that was allotted to Mammy Callie, a former slave who had tended to William and his brothers when they were young. Mammy Callie was one of several people who completely depended on Faulkner for care. When she passed away at an estimated 100 years of age in 1940, Faulkner purchased a headstone for her grave that reads, “Callie Barr Clark, 1840-1940, ‘Mammy’, Her white children bless her.” She is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, which is the same cemetery in which Faulkner and his ancestors repose.

Mammy Callie's cottage on the Rowan Oak estate.

Mammy Callie’s cottage on the Rowan Oak estate.

The grounds at Rowan Oak are open year-round, but the house is closed on July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Hours of operation for the house are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m, and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. During the summer, hours are extended to 6 p.m. Although visitors may observe the grounds for free, the cost of admission to the house is $5. For additional information about Rowan Oak, interested parties should visit the website at www.rowanoak.com or call 662-234-3284.


Although William Faulkner died more than fifty years ago, his works continue to inspire and at times confuse today’s readers. As a Nobel Prize winner for literature, Faulkner’s legacy is secured, and hopefully his home will continue to awe fans for many years to come. Those wanting to take a step back in time and get to know Faulkner better should include Rowan Oak on their list of literary travels.

A Fable (Vintage International) (Paperback)

By (author): William Faulkner

This novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955. An allegorical story of World War I, set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment, it was originally considered a sharp departure for Faulkner. Recently it has come to be recognized as one of his major works and an essential part of the Faulkner oeuvre. Faulkner himself fought in the war, and his descriptions of it “rise to magnificence,” according to The New York Times, and include, in Malcolm Cowley’s words, “some of the most powerful scenes he ever conceived.”

List Price: $16.00 USD
New From: $8.52 USD In Stock
Used from: $8.05 USD In Stock

Mollie Smith Waters

Mollie Smith Waters teaches American literature, theater, and speech at a small community college in rural Alabama. Her hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, and walking.