Manual A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty

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Her mother would read stories aloud to her children every spare minute, even when she was churning butter, and was once said to have run back into a burning house in order to rescue a set of Dickens.

She was already publishing short stories in small magazines but her father insisted there was no future in writing, so she mollified him by going to the Columbia School of Business to study advertising in The time in New York offered a first glimpse of the outside world, but when her father died in she returned to Jackson to help her mother raise her two younger brothers. She worked on a radio station, then had a spell as a newspaper reporter before taking a job as a publicity agent for the Works' Progress Administration, a counter-Depression project set up by President F D Roosevelt.

Her job took her all over the state and, already a keen photographer, she took hundreds of pictures of the people of Mississippi. In , some of her photographs were exhibited in a small New York gallery.

The Photography of Eudora Welty

Photography proved to be a great influence on her writing, and taught her, as she explained in One Writer's Beginnings, that "life doesn't hold still. She continued to take photographs until , when she left her Rolleiflex on a bench in the Paris Metro and, furious with herself for losing it, never replaced it.


Eudora Welty's first book was a short story collection, A Curtain of Green , which drew on many of the images she had collected on her travels across rural Mississippi. This was followed by a novella, The Robber Bridegroom , a curious mixture of 18th century Mississippi history and Greek and Germanic classical myth, combined with what one critic called "touches of the pastoral tradition in American literature".

In , the book was successfully turned into a Broadway musical. In she wrote Delta Wedding, the nostalgic tale of a large Southern family on a Mississippi plantation preparing for their daughter's marriage. Her descriptions of the position and influence of women within the family prompted critical comparisons with Virginia Woolf.

Other short story collections included The Golden Apples , a group of closely linked stories about people in a fictional Mississippi Delta town called Morgana, followed by Selected Stories , The Bride of Innisfallen and The Eye of the Story , a collection of essays and reviews.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

The Ponder Heart , a comic novel about an eccentric Southern gentleman, was adapted for the stage in and received much critical acclaim. An exception to Eudora Welty's stories of small-town life and Mississippi legend was a short story, The Burning, about Yankee troops putting the torch to a Southern plantation during the Civil War.

Her longest book, which, characteristically, began as an idea for a short story, was the page Losing Battles She worked on it for more than a decade as it developed into a dramatic comedy centred on a poor but proud family in the north-east part of the state, far from the wretchedness of life in the delta. Eudora Welty took a number of lecturing posts - often when her income from writing would not support her - and she lectured in Britain at the Conference of American Studies at Cambridge. In , the Mississippi University for Women gave her its first honorary degree and in she was awarded the French Legion of Honour.

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She was not only a gifted writer, but also a talented photographer. This comes across clearly here with the inclusion of the photos in the book.

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It has a plethora of photographs which really add to the text. Good solid addition to biography collections. I must admit to not having read any of Welty's stories or novels, but I will certainly be looking them up now. This fascinating woman observed and wrote brilliantly throughout the majority of the twentieth century Her life reflects a century of rapid change and is closely entwined with many events that mark our recent history.

Daring From Within | National Trust for Historic Preservation

This biography tells Welty's story, beginning with her parents and their important influence on her reading and writing life. The chapters that follow focus on her education and her most important teachers as well as her life during the Depression and how her new career, just getting started, was interrupted by World War II.

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  8. Throughout she shows independence and courage in her writing, especially during the turbulent civil rights period of the s and s. After years of care-giving and the deaths of all her immediate family members, Welty persevered, wrote acclaimed short stories, and won the Pulitzer Prize in for The Optimist's Daughter.

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    Her popularity soared in the s after she delivered the three William E. Massey Lectures to standing-room-only crowds at Harvard.

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