RIPLEY – Each July, The University of Mississippi hosts the Yoknapatawpha Conference (  Participants come from all over the world to attend.  On Thursday, July 25, a small group elected to visit Ripley and New Albany as a conference “add on.”  The group was led by Jack Elliott of West Point and driven by Jessica Russell, a recent University of Mississippi graduate. 

Ripley had three participants this year.  “We had Rosemary Clark from the town of Southport in the United Kingdom. Rosemary is a lawyer and is a research assistant for Carl Rollyson (who also attended the conference),” said Melinda Marsalis. “We had Michael Wainwright who is a professor at the University of London in the United Kingdom.  Michael is the author of Faulkner’s Gambit: Chess and Literature among several other books.  He has attended the Yoknapatawpha conference several times.  And we had Carl Rollyson of Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey.  Carl has written over 40 biographies.  His latest, a two volume  biography of William Faulkner will be published in 2020.  The first volume, entitled The Past is Never Dead will be published in April.  Volume II, This Alarming Paradox, is scheduled to be published in September. Rollyson is making plans with Main Street Director, Elizabeth Behm, to return to Ripley for a book signing and lecture when Volume 1 is published.” 

The tour started near the courthouse. Lunch was at Shirley’s Restaurant. There was a walking tour, cemetery tour and Murrumbidgee tour. The tour guide Jack Elliott is a historical architect - which means what it says...he digs up history.  Elliott had a long career with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.   He adopted Ripley several years ago after touring with and talking to Tommy Covington.  He has since read every publication of the early Southern Sentinel,  searching for facts.  He has pieced these facts together to create a very factual and rich story of the life of Colonel William Clark Falkner, great-grandfather of Nobel prize winning author, William Faulkner. Elliott promises that he is going to finish his biography soon.

On Sept. 27 - 28, Ripley and New Albany will co-host a new event to be called A Tale of Two Fa(u)lkners.  The Ripley part of the event will include a story telling contest and guided tours of historic downtown Ripley (led by Elliott) and the Ripley Cemetery.

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