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Faces and Places of the South

Faulkner’s Rowen Oak

Oxford, Mississippi

Just south of downtown Oxford, Mississippi, literature lovers can visit the beautiful wooded Rowen Oak, where distinguished author William Faulkner and his family lived for more than 40 years. Faulkner purchased the Greek Revival house and surrounding 29 acres in 1930. The serene, secluded landscaped allowed him the privacy he needed to write, and it was there he penned some of his greatest works, including “A Fable,” “Absalom, Absalom!” and “As I Lay Dying.” Many of his novels explored controversial topics such as slavery, poverty and the decline of Southern aristocrats, introducing dark themes that came to characterize the Southern Gothic genre.

“He was the first person to write about the modern South that emerged following the Civil War,” said William Griffith, curator of the museum. “He developed a formula for Southern literature: a nice, bucolic town that’s hiding a dark, vicious secret, and then something uncovers the secret, and the town has to confront it.”

When Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, he was the first writer from Mississippi to receive the honor. His novel “The Sound and the Fury” is widely considered one of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th century.

One of the most popular times to visit Rowen Oak is early spring, when the trees and flowers come into full bloom. After admiring the beautiful original furnishings throughout the home, visitors can step outside to explore historic structures on the grounds, such as an old horse barn, a detached kitchen and the servants’ quarters.

Margaret Mitchell House


Margaret Mitchell published only one work of fiction in her life, but that did not deter her captivating Civil War tale, “Gone With the Wind,” from becoming one of the most revered examples of Southern literature. The book was conceived in 1926, the year newlyweds Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh moved into a quaint, red-brick apartment building on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, a home Mitchell affectionately called “The Dump.” After an ankle injury left her bedridden, her husband brought home dozens of books from the library each week to help her pass the time. Eventually, he grew tired of carrying armloads of books into the house and brought back a typewriter instead, saying, “For God’s sake, Peggy, can’t you write a book instead of reading thousands of them.” So Mitchell started to write, and a vivid story of survival in a war-torn country began to take shape.

Though nearly a decade passed before Mitchell submitted her manuscript to a publisher, “Gone With the Wind” was an instant success. Within a year of publication, the novel received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and four years later, the story was adapted into an award-winning film starring Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh. In the whirlwind of publicity that followed, Mitchell found little time to produce more writing, instead turning her attention to philanthropic work in the local community. In 1949, she was struck by an off-duty cab driver as she and her husband were crossing the street, and she passed away shortly after at the age of 49.

At the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, groups can learn more about Mitchell’s rich inner world, her philanthropic efforts and her inspiration for writing the timeless novel.

“Many people expect her to embody the typical, sweet Southern belle, but she was very much an independent and, at times, quite a rebellious young lady,” said Jessica VanLanduyt, deputy mission officer at the Atlanta History Center.

Visitors can tour the apartment where she penned most of the book and see various exhibits throughout the house that commemorate her background and legacy.