July 26

This Day in History

Literary

Jul 26, 1942:

William Faulkner begins a screenwriting stint

Novelist William Faulkner starts a five-month stint with Warner Brothers on this day.

Faulkner had already published several literary novels, including The Sound and the Fury (1929), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), but his novels were not commercial successes. Faulkner wrote two critically acclaimed films, both starring Humphrey Bogart: To Have and Have Not was based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, and The Big Sleep was based on a mystery by Raymond Chandler.

Screenwriting provided income for many novelists from the 1930s through the 1950s. With the development of talking pictures, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, the demand for writers to create convincing movie dialogue and story lines brought many novelists to Hollywood. Other prominent writers who did their time in Hollywood include Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Nathanael West. West's novel The Day of the Locusts is considered one of the best novels about Hollywood in the '40s.

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