William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize Medals With a Side of Adultery

William Faulkner and Else Jonsson
William Faulkner and Else Jonsson

There’s a treasure trove of William Faulkner’s old stuff that Sotheby’s will be putting up for auction, including an unpublished 12-page short story entitled “The Trapper’s Story,”and an original book of poetry called “Vision in Spring.” But the big prize of the auction is undoubtedly Faulkner’s Nobel Prize medal, the diploma, and the hand-written draft of his 1950 Nobel acceptance speech.

Faulkner’s trip to Oslo yielded the award that could fetch up to $2 million dollars when it goes up on the block, but it also was the start of a three-year affair between the married Faulkner, and the widow of the man said to be responsible for Faulkner being awarded the prize, Else Jonsson.

For an account of the fling, we turn to this For Shame! account of what took place when Faulkner went to Sweden:

[A]aside from having the strange habit of writing on the walls of his house, his output flourished, and in 1950, he won the Nobel Prize for literature. I’m guessing Estelle, all strung out as she was, figured, “What could possibly go wrong if I send my husband off to Sweden to pick up this prestigious-ass award?? It’s not like Sweden is full of six foot tall Amazonian women with low self-esteem and a huge boner for my Willie’s work!” Yeah, that’s most likely what she thought.

Faulkner did indeed catch that Stockholm Syndrome (and by that I mean an STD), and started another affair with the recently-widowed (pity sex!) Else Jonsson. You could say he had nothing Else to do!!!!!1! (no, that doesn’t really make sense—sorry, I opened that wine a couple of paragraphs ago). TWIST: Else’s late husband had been the one who interviewed Faulkner in 1946 and introduced him to the Swedes, thus resulting in said national boner, and said Nobel fucking Prize.

There you have it. William Faulker went to Sweden to get a medal, and he came away with a mistress. It wasn’t the first time Faulkner cheated on his wife (who reportedly turned to the bottle to numb the pain her troubled marriage caused), and it wasn’t the last. For those details, we turn once again to For Shame! to delicately handle Faulkner’s adultery:

Another conquest on the part of this busy, busy southern gentleman was that of Jean Stein, who interviewed him in Paris in the late 50′s, and was clearly powerless to resist not only the mustache, but by then what had to have been a distinct musk of stale alcohol and old-man decay. Yum.

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