Saturday, July 5, 2008


Born: April 13, 1909
Jackson, Mississippi
Died: July 22, 2001
Jackson, Mississippi

American writer and editor

Eudora Welty is considered one of the most important authors of the twentieth century. Although the majority of her stories are set in the American South and reflect the region’s language and culture, critics agree that Welty’s treatment of universal (covering or including all) themes and her wide-ranging artistic influences clearly cross all regional boundaries.

Southern childhood

Eudora Alice Welty, the oldest of her family’s three children and the only girl, was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi. That neither of her parents came from the Deep South may have given her some detachment from her culture and helped her become a careful observer of its manners. Her father, Christian Welty, had been raised on a farm in Ohio and had become a country school teacher in West Virginia. Marrying a fellow teacher, Chestina Andrews, he moved to Jackson to improve his fortunes by entering business. From bookkeeper in an insurance company, he eventually advanced to president. Welty described hers as a happy childhood in a close-knit, bookish family. One of her earliest memories was the sound of her parents’ voices reading favorite books to one another in the evenings.

Welty’s education in the Jackson schools was followed by two years at Mississippi State College for Women between 1925 and 1927, and then by two more years at the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor of arts degree in 1929. Her father, who believed that she could never earn a living by writing stories, encouraged her to study advertising at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York City during 1930 and 1931. The years in Wisconsin and New York broadened Welty’s horizons, and the time she spent in New York City was especially meaningful for it was during the peak of The Harlem Renaissance, an artistic awakening that produced many African American artists. Welty and her friends went to dances in Harlem clubs and to musical and theatrical performances all over the city.

Welty returned to Jackson in 1931 after her father’s death and worked as a part-time journalist, copywriter, and photographer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was aimed at providing jobs for writers. The latter job took her on assignments throughout Mississippi, and she began using these experiences as material for short stories. In June 1936, her story “Death of a Traveling Salesman” was accepted for publication


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