Faulkner Letter Is Auctioned for $15,000

From Associated Press

An undisclosed buyer paid more than $15,000 Sunday for a 1943 letter written by Nobel Prize-winning writer William Faulkner, complaining that he’d been duped into signing a seven-year deal with Warner Bros.

In the typed letter, which appears on the website of the Bonhams & Butterfields auction house, Faulkner describes in detail how he wound up moving west from his native Mississippi to write screenplays for the Burbank studio under a $400-a-week contract.

The letter was written to a Hollywood partner of his longtime New York literary agent. The Warner Bros. contract was the work of yet a third agent, who Faulkner thought was suckered by the studio.

“When I reached Cal., I learned to my horror that [a Los Angeles agent] had committed me to a 7 year contract,” the letter reads.


He said he signed the contract anyway, when the agent assured him that it could be broken at any time. He said the agent later threatened to sue him.

Among Faulkner’s Warner Bros. screen credits were adaptations of two other famous authors’ books: Ernest Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not,” and Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.”

Two other short notes that the famed author wrote to Hollywood literary agent H.N. Swanson on Warner Bros. letterhead regarding his work in the movies were also auctioned Sunday.

The Southern writer, who won the 1949 Nobel Prize for literature, wrote a number of short stories and novels, including “As I Lay Dying,” “The Sound and the Fury,” “Sanctuary” and “Light in August.”


The letter was sold as part of an auction held in Los Angeles and San Francisco on Sunday, according to the Bonhams & Butterfields website.