Student scans Faulkner’s handwritten pages of “The Sound and the Fury”

By Molly Minturn | August 3, 2023

Guest post by Rob Smith, Digital Production Group Project Manager

We offer singular experiences in the UVA Library — for our staff, for our student employees, for scholars near and far, for our patrons, for the communities we connect with and serve, and for others tied to the broad networks of knowledge wrapping around our world. Typically, we do this work and our outreach in unique ways. It’s how we roll.

As case in point, the Digital Production Group (DPG) received a request in the spring semester to scan William Faulkner’s handwritten manuscript of “The Sound and the Fury.” (Handwritten! By William Faulkner!) This is one of many literary treasures we hold in Special Collections. (A detail from “Benjy’s Section” of the manuscript is shown below.)

A detail from “Benjy’s Section” of "The Sound and the Fury" manuscript.
A detail from “Benjy’s Section” of “The Sound and the Fury” manuscript. (UVA Special Collections Library)

We handle all DPG scans with care and our student employees typically lead this work. But this manuscript seemed to offer something extra special. Who might do it? With whom might this project resonate the most?

Caitlin Gerrard, a fourth-year student and English major in our shop, was fast approaching graduation. She got the nod. This was work Caitlin was genuinely excited to do. She did the work, and she did it well. In addition to meeting the needs of an international patron, the full work is now archived as high-resolution digital files in our holdings in addition to Faulkner’s handwritten master.

Caitlin was the DPG’s only graduate this year. We faced a new challenge: How to make this achievement (more) memorable for her. I am happy to say that we did this; you will find a few pictures below as proof.

Caitlin received a few gifts. Among them was a double picture frame. One side was blank and the other held a photo from William Faulkner’s days when he served as UVA writer-in-residence in the late 1950s. She also received a leather-bound copy of “The Sound and the Fury” and a gift bag with some unusual items: a raincoat, a hat, a dress shirt and tie, a (fake) pipe, and a stick-on mustache. Caitlin recognized instantly her invitation to play Faulkner’s counterpart. She was a perfect sport. A clever photoshoot followed with Caitlin and the rest of our gang.

Left: William Faulkner on the Lawn in 1957; Right: Caitlin Gerrard on the Lawn in 2023.
Left: William Faulkner on the Lawn in 1957 (Ralph Thompson/UVA Special Collections); Right: Caitlin Gerrard on the Lawn in 2023 (Photo by Eze Amos).

Thanks to the stellar photography of Eze Amos and to the Photoshop mastery of Stacey Evans, you can see how Caitlin’s fun now complements William Faulkner’s photo on the other side of the Lawn. A one-of-a-kind keepsake, along with the full spread of our good-spirited bunch below. Clearly, we had some extra mustaches. (An easy Amazon buy if you ever have want or need, sold in sheets with options.)

The Library's Digital Production group poses with fake Faulkereqsue mustaches.
The Library's Digital Production group poses with fake Faulkneresque mustaches.

Caitlin graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She has accepted a fellowship to teach English in Taiwan and she is to set off for Taipei this month. We are happy for Caitlin and we are happy for all other 2023 graduates with UVA Library ties. We are also grateful to the other student employees in our group and in the Library who do so much for us throughout the year, including making our work more interesting and a lot more fun.