A scholar has found an old plantation diary that appears to be the model for the one found in William Faulkner’s 1942 classic Go Down, Moses, a find that’s stunned the novelist’s devotees. Faulkner appears to have used the writings in the ledger as inspiration for scenes in several novels, and borrowed the slave names recorded there for several characters. The diary belonged to the grandfather of one of Faulkner’s childhood friends.
Southern literature professor Sally Wolff-King found that friend, Edgar Francisco, in her search for Faulkner’s acquaintances. Francisco says Faulkner was fascinated with the diary, and would take copious notes on it, even as he angrily cursed its author. But until now, Francisco’s felt reluctant to bring his family’s slave-owning past public. He says he’s never read Go Down, Moses. “I tried,” he tells the New York Times, “but I got so angry I threw it across the room.”