Monday, March 21, 2016

Rowan Oak

Oxford, Mississippi, March 2016

Amy and I recently visited William Faulkner's former home in Oxford, Mississippi, exploring the house and the surrounding twenty-nine acres of Bailey's Woods. Owned, curated, and operated by the University of Mississippi, the house still retains a remarkably lived-in, domestic feel, despite the plastic dividers keeping us out of rooms and the many plaques and exhibits under glass on both floors. The young woman staffing the entry desk charmingly couldn't answer my question about the empty bottles on the front porch (see the photo below). "Sometimes people rummage around the woods and pick up trash and bottles and leave it on the front porch, like a keepsake," she told us. The house has that kind of casual, welcoming vibe; inside, one has the impression that Faulkner himself, or a family member, might appear from the kitchen or a bedroom upstairs. Visitors are encouraged to wander the grounds and woods, and once Amy and I walked into the woods just far enough that when we turned around we lost sight of the houses completely.
The iconic red cedar walkway leading to the house.

The library, where Faulkner wrote until he built a writing room at the rear of the house.

Map of old Oxford.

Modus operandi

Office and writing room upstairs, which Faulkner built after 1950. He wrote the outline to A Fable on the walls.

The kitchen, off-limits to visitors, but I leaned in to snap this picture.

Amy, peering into the kitchen from outside.

"A notorious binge drinker, Faulkner favored the inexpensive and readily available 'Four Roses Bourbon'."
Amy and I both agreed that sneaking in a bottle and drinking in the Bailey's Woods would be sublime. Many others had the idea, judging from the number of empties we saw strewn around.

An anonymous gift of bottles at the front door.

Old, old gnarled tree in foreground; servants quarters in background.

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