The 50th Anniversary of William Faulkner's Death @ His Death Place

On July 6th, 1962, around 1:30AM or 2:30AM, William Faulkner died at Wright's Sanatorium in Byhalia, MS just outside Memphis. His death was unexpected. He was feeling under the weather so he was taken in the middle of the night from his Oxford, Mississippi home to the sanatorium in Byhalia. There he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Today, the sanatorium is gone, and has been replaced by a Shell gas station, the Byhalia Gas Mart, at the northwestern corner of US Highway 78 and Mississippi Highway 309 in Byhalia, MS. Little remains of the sanatorium, except possibly some of the small old attendant homes used by the sanatorium workers.

At the place where Elvis, arguably the most famous American musician of the 20th century, died, there is Graceland, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the US. At the place where Martin Luther King, arguably the most famous American social-political figure of the 20th century, died, you have the National Civil Rights Museum, one of the best educational museums in the US. And at the place where William Faulkner, arguably the most famous 20th century American author, died,... well, there isn't a plaque.

To me, that seems kind of weird. Don't you think it would be historically significant to know where say Ovid or Marlowe had died. Well, that's how I also feel about Faulkner. We'd want a marker, at least for historical purposes.

Beyond historical curiosity, there may even be a small economic boomlet to the Byhalia area. The land on which the sanatorium stood is mostly clear of large structures. With the cooperation of the current landowners, there could be a small annual festival at the location on July 6th, where there could be public readings of Faulkner novels and stories and moments of silence. This could be an opportunity to bring some out-of-towners to Byhalia, which the town could use to showcase Byhalia for residential and business development.

If the town were really ambitious and the cost benefit analysis were to work out, they could try to buy the land and make it a Faulkner Park or a "writers sanatorium" where a reconstructed sanatorium could be used as a writers' and artists' colony.

In any case, I have made a brief video that documents the death place at almost the exact moment of the 50th anniversary of Faulkner's death. Admittedly, it is very shoddy as I am an amateur filmmaker, a horrible voice over, and a nincompoop with respect to technology. Heck, I have never been the camera person on a film before, let alone ever made a professional film. That said, I hope the film serves its purpose.



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