William Faulkner’s Desk


The “Faulkner portable”: American novelist William Faulkner’s (1897-1962) Underwood Universal Portable typewriter, resting on a tiny desk his stepson helped him build. This space at Rowan Oak, the author’s home, was part of the back porch until Faulkner spent part of a Random House advance to enclose it in 1952, long after he had written his seminal Compson and Sartoris family novels. He insisted that this room not be called his “study.” According to biographer Joseph Blotner, “he did not study in it, so there was no sense in calling it that. It was the ‘office,’ the traditional name for the room in the plantation houses where the business was transacted.” As to the typewriter itself, Underwood introduced its Universal Portable in the mid-l930’s among a full line of portables such as Champion, Noiseless Portable and Junior. Faulkner had a habit of buying used portables locally, wearing them out, then trading them in on more used portables. This Underwood was one of at least three typewriters in Faulkner`s possession at the time of his death (the University of Virginia has one, too). The book next to the typewriter is the 1939 edition of Writer’s Market.


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