Thursday, April 13, 2017

Eudora Welty: life is lived in a private place

It’s the birthday of American short-story writer and novelist Eudora Welty (1909). She was born, raised, and died in Jackson, Mississippi. Welty is best known for her trenchant stories of the South, like “Why I Live at the P.O.,” about an eccentric woman who alienates her family and ends up living at the post office, and her novel, The Optimist’s Daughter (1972), which won the Pulitzer Prize. About writing, Welty once said: “Fiction has, and must keep, a private address. For life is lived in a private place; where it means anything is inside the mind and heart.”

Eudora Welty’s books include The Wide Net and Other Stories (1941), The Robber Bridegroom (1942), Delta Wedding (1946), and The Ponder Heart (1954). Her memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings (1984), is considered a classic text on becoming an artist. Because she lived in Jackson for most of her life, some people think Welty was a reclusive spinster, but the opposite is true. She traveled widely, often overseas, and had two great love affairs, one with mystery writer Ross Macdonald that remained unconsummated, but produced a legion of passionate letters. Plenty of people came to Jackson to see Welty, too, like novelist Henry Miller. Welty’s mother thought Miller’s writing was obscene, so she banned him from the house, but Welty met him, anyway [...] William Faulkner was a fan of her writing, too. He once sent her a letter that said, “You’re doing all right.”
-Writer's Almanac

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