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Murry Falkner in 1955
Murry 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, therefore, "pre-Yoknapatawpha."

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.

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Other Fa(u)lkner Family Writers: J. Edgar Hoover and Murry Falkner
© 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.

Publications

Nonfiction:

  • 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.

Bibliography

Internet Resources

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