Eudora Welty Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111226309-Welty.jpgEudora Welty Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909. Her father, Christian Webb Welty, was originally from rural Ohio; he had met Mary Chestina (“Chessie”) Andrews when he was working in West Virginia, where she was a teacher in the mountain schools near her home. To the dismay of her five adoring brothers, the new bride and her husband decided to move to Jackson. There Christian became a successful businessman. Eudora was their second child. As she recalls in One Writer’s Beginnings (1984), her parents did not speak freely of the baby boy who had died at birth, but Eudora was aware of being cherished and even sheltered.

Welty was an observant child. Sounds and sights, musical harmonies and the cadences of human voices, the coming and the fading of the seasons, the subtle changes in human beings—all were fascinating to her. With her two younger brothers, Welty could disappear into the world of the imagination. There were also trips north and east to visit both of her parents’ families. Her world was filled with stimuli, yet it was safe; the serenity that is evident in her fiction began with a happy childhood in a family filled with love.

Encouraged by her mother, Welty read a wide variety of books. Soon she was also writing. Her gifts were not only literary, however; in high school and later in college, she took lessons in drawing and painting. This visual gift was to be utilized in her photographs as well as in the memorable descriptive passages in her fiction.

After she graduated in 1925 from Central High School in Jackson, Welty spent two years at Mississippi State College for Women. In 1927, she transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in English. In One Writer’s Beginnings, she recalls the moment when she knew that literature must be her life; as she explains it, a poem by William Butler Yeats so imbued her with passion that she believed she could live within it, possessing it and possessed by it.

However, after Welty graduated from college in 1929, she followed her father’s advice: She went to New York City and entered the School of Business at Columbia University, studying advertising, so that she would be able to get a job. Unfortunately, when the Depression hit, there were no jobs in New York. In 1931, Welty returned to...

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Eudora Welty Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

In Welty’s fiction, there is great variety as to point of view, structure, and the degree of complexity. In some works, the focus is on the experience of one person, who, though an accepted member of society, has retreated enough from it to view the world with a certain detachment. In others, Welty presents a number of different perceptions, maintaining a dramatic detachment and refusing to take sides in the conflicts she presents.

Sometimes the individual comes to terms with a sense of alienation. More often, the resolution involves an individual’s learning to preserve some independence, while at the same time he or she is incorporated into a society that at first had been intolerant, a society that nevertheless should be valued for its preservation of the rich past.

Eudora Welty Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi. In the Welty household, reading was a favorite pastime, and Welty recalls in her autobiography, One Writer’s Beginnings (1984), both being read to often as a young child and becoming a voracious reader herself. Her recollections of her early life are of a loving and protective family and of a close, gossip-prone community in which she developed her lifelong habit of watching, listening to, and observing closely everything around her. Her progressive and understanding parents encouraged her in her education, and in 1925, she enrolled at the Mississippi State College for Women. After two years there, she transferred to the University of Wisconsin and was graduated with a B.A. in English in 1929.

Welty subsequently studied advertising at the Columbia University Business School; her father had recommended to her that if she planned to be a writer, she would be well advised to have another skill to which she could turn in case of need. During the Depression, however, she had little success finding employment in the field of advertising. She returned to Mississippi and spent the next several years working variously as a writer for radio and as a society editor. In 1933, she began working for the Works Progress Administration, traveling throughout Mississippi, taking photographs, interviewing people, and writing newspaper articles. She later credited this experience with providing her...

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Eudora Welty Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Eudora Alice Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909. She would spend most of her life in Jackson. She was the only daughter of Christian Webb Welty and Mary Chestina Andrews Welty; she had two younger brothers. Soon after their marriage in 1904, Welty’s parents moved to Jackson. Her father, who came from Ohio, where his father owned a farm, was president of the well-established Lamar Life Insurance Company. Her mother, a West Virginian, was descended from pre-Revolutionary War Virginia stock, engendered by country preachers, teachers, and lawyers. Welty, who claimed that she would feel “shy, and discouraged at the very thought” of a biography about her, felt that a “private life should be kept private.” Still, though she insisted that it is the writer’s work, not his or her life, that is important, she did finally write a memoir of her family history and her early years, One Writer’s Beginnings, which was published in 1984 and received positive critical comment.

Perhaps one reason she suggested that her own biography would not “particularly interest anybody” is that she lived for the most part in the mainstream of American society. As Porter aptly observes in her introduction to A Curtain of Green, Welty was not the “spiritual and intellectual exile” that typifies the modern artist. She attended Central High School in Jackson, then was at Mississippi State College for Women, in Columbus, for two years before transferring to the University of Wisconsin in 1927. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1929, she enrolled in the School of Business at Columbia University, where she studied advertising for one year. By then, the United States was in the throes of the Depression, and she returned to Jackson to seek work.

During the next several years, Welty held a variety of jobs in advertising, radio scriptwriting, and part-time newspaper work. She also began writing stories. Possibly the most important of those early jobs was the position of junior publicity agent with the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1933 to 1936. In this position, Welty was required to travel extensively through Mississippi doing newspaper stories on various WPA projects. Her work involved taking photographs, talking with a great variety of people, and, perhaps most important, listening to them. As Welty herself confessed, she had a “good ear” and a visual imagination, qualities that enabled her to hear and observe things and people during those three years that she would use in her...

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Eudora Welty Biography (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

ph_0111201289-Welty.jpgEudora Welty Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Eudora Welty attended Jackson State College for Women and the University of Wisconsin, where she was graduated in 1929. After a year at Columbia University’s school of advertising, she went back to Jackson, Mississippi, and worked for several newspapers and radio stations as well as the Works Progress Administration as a publicity agent. It was during this time that she began writing the magical short stories that have made her loved and respected.

Welty was not a feminist writer in the ideological sense, but an important writer who often focused on women’s efforts to assert their identity. From “A Memory,” which deals with a young woman’s introduction into a reality she insists on changing to fit her own...

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Eudora Welty Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Eudora Alice Welty is one of the greatest writers of Southern fiction. She was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909, the daughter of Mary Chestina Andrews Welty, a teacher originally from West Virginia, and Christian Webb Welty, originally from Ohio. Soon after marrying, the young couple moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Welty’s father eventually became president of a life insurance company. After she left Jackson High School, Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women for two years and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where she received her bachelor of arts degree in 1929. By this time, Welty had decided to become an author, but her father considered writing a risky career and persuaded her...

(The entire section is 1048 words.)

Eudora Welty Biography

Eudora Welty73_1190051240.jpg

Introduction

Eudora Welty had good ears, the kind that can pick up and process the subtleties of a dialogue or an accent—the kind of ears that can make for great writing. And a great writer she undoubtedly was. Her most celebrated medium was the short story, and her main subject was the family, though she personally never married. Her favorite setting was generally the South, in particular Mississippi, where she spent the majority of her life. Imbuing her work with both a sense of humor and respect, Welty created characters that are often lonely and complex, full of longing but strangely fulfilled. Besides four collections of celebrated short stories, she also wrote an influential nonfiction book, On Writing (1942). Her main advice to new writers? Learn to listen, of course.

Essential Facts

  1. Although many of her stories feature eccentric and strong women, feminist scholars shunned Welty’s work for a long time because of negative comments she made about the feminist movement in the 1970s.
  2. Welty also had great eyes. She was an accomplished photographer who for three years during the 1930s took pictures of the Depression-stricken South.
  3. Intensely private, Welty refused to talk about personal influences in her work, preferring that the writing speak for itself.
  4. Welty was the first woman to enter Peterhouse College in Cambridge.
  5. Welty maintained her sense of humor until the end. When a doctor asked her if there was anything he could do as she lay dying, she quipped, “No, but thanks for inviting me to the party.”

Eudora Welty Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi. Her father, an insurance executive, and her mother, a teacher, offered a stable...

(The entire section is 402 words.)

Eudora Welty Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Christian Webb and Chestina Andrews Welty. Her father was an insurance...

(The entire section is 316 words.)

Eudora Welty Biography (Novels for Students)

F Scott Fitzgerald Published by Gale Cengage

Eudora Alice Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909, to Chestina and Christian Welty. With her two younger brothers, she was reared in Jackson, although neither of her parents was from the Deep South. Her father came from Ohio, and her mother was from West Virginia. Both were teachers by trade until the family moved to Mississippi, where Christian entered the insurance business. Welty remembered having a very happy childhood in which she was surrounded by books and loved listening to her parents read to each other in the evenings. She also recalled how much she loved listening to the ladies in town trade stories, and her habit of noting their speech patterns and colloquialisms served her well when she began writing about the South.

After completing her public education in Jackson, Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women from 1925 to 1927, finishing a bachelor of arts degree in 1929 at the University of Wisconsin. At the encouragement of her father (who wanted her to have a reliable trade), she studied advertising at Columbia University from 1930 to 1931. When her father died suddenly, however, she returned home to Jackson permanently. She worked various jobs with newspapers and a radio station before going to work for the Works Progress Administration, a government program established during the depression that assigned people to work on public projects for much-needed income. Welty also took up photography, snapping pictures of all kinds of people (mostly African Americans) in her native Mississippi. Her first published story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman," appeared in 1936, after which Welty's stories were accepted by top publications such as Atlantic and Southern Review.

During Welty's early writing career, her work was often narrowly defined as regionalist or feminist writing. Still, she was admired by other writers, and her first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green, left critics eagerly anticipating Welty's future work. Over the next thirty years, Welty had over fifteen books published, including short fiction, novels, and nonfiction. In her autobiography, One Writer's Beginnings, Welty wrote that Losing Battles was the most difficult to write of all her books; she told a New York Times reporter that she spent six to eight years working on it.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was renewed interest in Welty's work, partially because of the rise in feminist criticism. (Welty preferred to distance herself from feminism.) Readers and critics continue to be drawn to her writing for her unique style, her handling of daily life, and her depictions of everyday heroism. Her work was recognized with prestigious awards such as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1942; the O. Henry Award in 1942, 1943, and 1968; the National Institute of Arts and Letters literary grant in 1944; the Gold Medal for fiction in 1972; and a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for The Optimist's Daughter.

Welty died of complications of pneumonia on July 23, 2001, in her hometown. She was ninety-two

Eudora Welty Biography (Novels for Students)

Eudora Welty Published by Gale Cengage

Eudora Alice Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, 1909, to Chestina and Christian Welty. With her two younger brothers, she was reared in Jackson, although neither of her parents was from the Deep South. Her father came from Ohio, and her mother was from West Virginia. Both were teachers by trade until the family moved to Mississippi, where Christian entered the insurance business.

Welty remembers a very happy childhood in which she was surrounded by books and loved listening to her parents read to each other in the evenings. She also remembers how much she loved listening to the ladies in town trade stories, and her habit of noting their speech patterns and colloquialisms served her well when she began writing about the South.

After completing her public education in Jackson, Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women from 1925 to 1927, finishing a bachelor of arts degree in 1929 at the University of Wisconsin. At the encouragement of her father (who wanted her to have a reliable trade), she studied advertising at Columbia University from 1930 to 1931.

When her father died suddenly, Welty returned home to settle in Jackson. She worked various jobs with newspapers and a radio station before going to work for the Works Progress Administration, a government program established during the Depression that assigned people to work on public projects for much-needed income. Welty also took up photography, snapping pictures of all kinds of people (mostly African Americans) in her native Mississippi.

Her first published story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman," appeared in 1936, after which Welty's stories were accepted by top publications such as Atlantic and Southern Review. During her early writing career, Welty's work was often narrowly defined as regionalist or feminist. Still, she was admired by other writers, and her first collection of short stories, A Curtain of Green, left critics eagerly anticipating Welty's future work. Over the next thirty years, Welty had over fifteen books published, including short fiction, novels, and nonfiction.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was renewed interest in her work, partially because of the rise in feminist criticism. Although Welty prefers to distance herself from the efforts of feminists, the renewed interest demonstrated to a new generation of readers that her writing was much more than an easily categorized body of work. Readers and critics continue to be drawn to her writing for her subtle, unique style, her handling of daily life, and her depictions of everyday heroism.

Welty's work has been recognized with prestigious awards such as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1942; the O. Henry Award in 1942, 1943, and 1968; the National Institute of Arts and Letters literary grant in 1944 and Gold Medal for fiction in 1972; and a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for The Optimist's Daughter.

Welty died of pneumonia on July 23, 2001, in Jackson, Mississippi, at the age of 92.