Welty, Eudora

Welty, Eudora
born April 13, 1909, Jackson, Miss., U.S.
died July 23, 2001, Jackson

U.S. short-story writer and novelist.

Welty focused her work on a small town that resembled her birthplace and the Delta country. Her main subject is the intricacies of human relationships. She first gained attention for the story collection A Curtain of Green (1941), containing the widely admired "Petrified Man" and "Why I Live at the P.O." Other stories appear in The Wide Net (1943), The Golden Apples (1949), and The Bride of the Innisfallen (1955). Her novels include Delta Wedding (1946), The Ponder Heart (1954), and The Optimist's Daughter (1972, Pulitzer Prize). Her works combine humour and psychological acuity with a sharp ear for regional speech patterns. She also published books of her photographs, including those she took while working for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

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▪ American author
born April 13, 1909, Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
died July 23, 2001, Jackson

      American short-story writer and novelist whose work is mainly focused with great precision on the regional manners of people inhabiting a small Mississippi town that resembles her own birthplace and the Delta country.

      Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women before transferring to the University of Wisconsin, from which she graduated in 1929. During the Great Depression she was a photographer on the Works Progress Administration's Guide to Mississippi, and photography remained a lifelong interest. Photographs (1989) is a collection of many of the photographs she took for the WPA. She also worked as a writer for a radio station and newspaper in her native Jackson, Mississippi, before her fiction won popular and critical acclaim.

      Welty's first short story was published in 1936, and thereafter her work began to appear regularly, first in little magazines such as the Southern Review and later in major periodicals such as The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. Her readership grew steadily after the publication of A Curtain of Green (1941; enlarged 1979), a volume of short stories that contains two of her most anthologized stories—“The Petrified Man” and “Why I Live at the P.O.” In 1942 her short novel The Robber Bridegroom was issued, and in 1946 her first full-length novel, Delta Wedding. Her later novels include The Ponder Heart (1954), Losing Battles (1970), and The Optimist's Daughter (1972), which won a Pulitzer Prize. The Wide Net and Other Stories (1943), The Golden Apples (1949), and The Bride of Innisfallen and Other Stories (1955) are collections of short stories, and The Eye of the Story (1978) is a volume of essays. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty was published in 1980.

      Welty's main subject is the intricacies of human relationships, particularly as revealed through her characters' interactions in intimate social encounters. Among her themes are the subjectivity and ambiguity of people's perception of character and the presence of virtue hidden beneath an obscuring surface of convention, insensitivity, and social prejudice. Welty's outlook is hopeful, and love is viewed as a redeeming presence in the midst of isolation and indifference. Her works combine humour and psychological acuity with a sharp ear for regional speech patterns.

      One Writer's Beginnings, an autobiographical work, was published in 1984. Originating in a series of three lectures given at Harvard, it beautifully evoked what Welty styled her “sheltered life” in Jackson and how her early fiction grew out of it.

Additional Reading
Ruth M. Vande Kieft, Eudora Welty, rev. ed. (1987), discusses Welty's life and work. W. Craig Turner and Lee Emling Harding (eds.), Critical Essays on Eudora Welty (1989); Peter Schmidt, The Heart of the Story: Eudora Welty's Short Fiction (1991); Laurie Champion (ed.), The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction (1994); and Carol Ann Johnston, Eudora Welty: A Study of the Short Fiction (1997), provide critical analyses.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Welty,Eudora — Wel·ty (wĕlʹtē), Eudora. Born 1909. American writer known for her tales of rural Southern life. Her works include collections of stories, such as The Golden Apples (1949), and novels, notably The Ponder Heart (1954). * * * …   Universalium

  • Welty, Eudora Alice — ▪ 2002       American short story writer and novelist (b. April 13, 1909, Jackson, Miss. d. July 23, 2001, Jackson), was known for the lyricism, perception, wit, and humanity that infused her works. Although she wrote primarily about the… …   Universalium

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