Faulkner Wrote Plays?: Authors Writing in Multiple Styles

Did you know that William Faulkner wasn’t just a groundbreaking novelist, but also a playwright? Me either – until the University of Virginia discovered the unpublished play “Twixt Cup and Lip” by The Sound and the Fury author. The Strand Magazine has published the play in its holiday issue.

Looking closer at this idea of mastery of two media, I was reminded that Faulkner was also a successful screenwriter, his biggest hit being The Big Sleep.

Other authors have moved us with different forms of expression. Ayad Akhtar, playwright of the recent Goodman Theatre smash Disgraced, also has a very popular novel, American Dervish.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life enthralled readers and kept book clubs busy all last year – but in 2000, she published a play called Abandonment (fun fact: one of the actors pictured on the cover is now on Doctor Who as “Missy,” which inspired this list of plays with Doctor Who actors on the cover).

Room by Emma Donoghue has inspired a film generating Oscar buzz for its lead actress, and Donoghue has written for actors before in the five plays collected in this volume.

None of these ambidextrous writers should come as too big of a surprise, of course. Many artists have found success in multiple media: Prince changed my life with the movie and music of Purple Rain; Michelangelo stunned the world with sculpture and interior design; and Justin Timberlake can be both host and musical guest for SNL for eternity if I get a vote. For even more writers navigating more than one form, browse this list.