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“A Biographical Sketch of one of our greatest American writers, Eudora Welty, an artist for all times, all ages and all generations”

My dear thinkers, readers and fellow lovers of literature, and men and women of all ideas, thoughts and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to find what is valid and authentic in this most confused world. Come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.

Today I have the privilege and honor of speaking of and presenting the life and works of one of the very greatest American writers of short stories and novels, Eudora Welty, the author of many great literary treasures of the world, books that once begun cannot be put down and once read through engage our minds and souls and spirits as few works of prose can do. I am a great fan of English and American literature, which includes such poets as Keats, Shelley, Byron, Masefield and many others, and such writers of prose and novels as Kipling, Dickens, Thackeray, Melville, Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck and many others. When I read these writers, my mind and consciousness are raised to a different level, and I acquire in reading and knowing these authors a different level of understanding. In coming to know them, I am lifted up intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I will never regret the time I have spent in reading them and being exposed to them and absorbing their greatness, despite American society telling all of us on a constant basis that the time spent with them has no practical value as producing no income. A life without this great literature is a life cheated and wasted of what these greatest of minds have to offer us.

Eudora Welty was born in1909 and died in 2001. She was a short-story writer and novelist who wrote about the American south. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Order of the South. She was the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America.

She was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Her mother was a teacher and she developed a love of reading. She attended high school in Jackson and studied at Mississippi State College for Women from 1925 to 1927 and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin to complete her studies in English literature. She then studied advertising at Columbia University.

When she returned to Jackson in 1931, she took a job at a local radio station and wrote for a Memphis newspaper. In 1933 she began work for the Works Progress Administration. In 1936 several of her stories were published in notable publications including The New Yorker. She then published a book of short stories. Her newfound success as a southern writer won her a seat on the staff of The New York Times Book Review, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship which enabled her to travel to France, England, Ireland, and Germany. While abroad she spent time as a resident lecturer at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 1971 she published a collection of photographs of the Great Depression.

Welty’s first short story was published in 1936, entitled “The Death of a Traveling Salesman.” She published her first collection of short stories in 1941, entitled A Curtain of Green, which established her as a leading American writer. Welty published over 40 short stories, five novels, three works of nonfiction, and a children’s book. Welty’s debut novel, Robber Bridegroom, was published in 1942. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, published by Harvard University Press in 1983, and gave a series of addresses at Harvard University.

Her work focuses on individual relationships and place and community and has mythological influences. Her novel, Delta Wedding, suggests the goddess of love.

I wish I had read all of the short stories and novels of Eudora Welty and, if time permits, will surely do so. I have dipped into her work and have enjoyed her fiction and benefitted from my slight contact with the work of this great writer. I only wish I had read all her work in my youth so I could have come to know her earlier, and in my older years would have come to truly know her most fully.

 

For this essay, I acknowledge my debt to the article on this author in Wikipedia.