Joseph Blotner, 1923-2012

Jospeh Blotner

The seminal biographer of William Faulkner, Joseph Blotner, died last week at 89. He was authorized by the Faulkner family around the time of the death of the great author to write the biography that would take him many years to complete. Faulkner had been a mentor and friend to Blotner, who made numerous trips to Oxford for research. Immediately after Faulkner's death, Blotner went about the house with a device recording every book title in the house, published as The Library of William Faulkner: A Catalog. When his two-volume biography -- over 2,000 pages -- was released, there was a book-signing event at Duvall's clothing store on the square, as there was no bookstore in Oxford at the time.   

Joseph Blotner also edited Faulkner's Selected Letters and, with Frederick Gwynn, comments from Faulkner's classes at the University of Virginia, Faulkner in the University, and he wrote the landmark biography of another great Southern writer, Robert Penn Warren: A Biography. He later revised and condensed his 2-volume work into one volume (a mere 780 pages), which has always been in print and remains, after many others, the standard biography of Faulkner. Joe Blotner was an extremely amiable scholar, indeed, a gentleman, who, among other things, enjoyed playing tennis and drinking a martini, possibly two, with Tommy Ethridge and my father, the late Beckett Howorth, Jr.  RH

The New York Times obit is here.