Eudora Welty

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Eudora Alice Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an American author who wrote short stories and novels about the American South. Her book The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. She was the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America. Her house in Jackson, Mississippi, is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public as a museum.


Early life

Welty was the daughter of Christian and Chestina Welty. She grew up with brothers Edward and Walter.[1] In 1927, Welty attended the University of Wisconsin for three years. At the insistence of her father, she subsequently attended Columbia Business School for one year to study advertising.[2] However, after his death in 1931, she left school after deciding that the advertising business did not suit her.[3]


During the 1930s, Welty worked as a publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration, a job that sent her around Mississippi. On her own time, she took some memorable photographs during the Great Depression of people from all economic and social classes. Collections of her photographs were published as One Time, One Place (1971) and Photographs (1989). Her photography was the basis for several of her short stories, including "Why I Live at the PO", which was inspired by a woman she photographed ironing in the back of a small post office.

Writing career

Welty was focused on her writing but continued to take photographs until the 1950s.[4] Her first short story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman", appeared in 1936. Her work attracted the attention of author Katherine Anne Porter, who became a mentor to Welty and wrote the foreword to Welty's first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green, in 1941. The book immediately established Welty as one of American literature's leading lights and featured the stories "Why I Live at the P.O.", "Petrified Man", and the frequently anthologized "A Worn Path". Excited by the printing of Welty's works in such publications such as the Atlantic Monthly, the Junior League of Jackson, of which Welty was a member, requested permission from the publishers to reprint some of her works.

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