Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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William Faulkner & Eudora Welty

William Faulkner

Both William Faulkner and Eudora Welty were avid readers of mystery novels, but only Faulkner actually wrote detective fiction. In 1946, his “An Error in Chemistry” won second prize in the first detective short story contest conducted by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. That runner-up later appeared in Knight’s Gambit, Faulkner’s 1949 collection of six detective short stories featuring the lawyer Gavin Stevens. The cover design on the late 1950s Greek edition O Kapnos Ke Alla Diegemata graphically highlights the collection’s murderous elements.

On loan from Faulkner’s library at Rowan Oak are vintage paperbacks by such luminaries as Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, Eric Ambler, and Agatha Christie. An unexpected Faulkner mystery association is his appearance as a fictional character in the Hollywood setting of Stuart Kaminisky’s Never Cross a Vampire (1980), which additionally features Bela Lugosi. Faulkner also makes a brief fictional appearance in Elliott Roosevelt’s Murder at Midnight (1997).

During his stints as a screenwriter in Hollywood, Faulkner adapted for film Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, a Philip Marlowe private eye novel. He also worked on the screenplay for a never-produced film based on Dreadful Hollow, a traditional English mystery novel written by Irina Karlova.

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