Eudora Welty

Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1909.

(At the moment, I give the titles, year of publication, publisher, ISBN where I have it, and the blurb that appears on the edition that I have. I've also included Links to other relevant sites.)

"I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within."


* The Robber Bridegroom (1942, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1982, Virago Press, with an introduction by Paul Binding [ISBN: 0 86068 290 0])
"`Rosamond's hair lay out behind her, and Jamie's hair was flying too... Red as blood the horse rode the ridge, his mane and tail straight out in the wind, and it was the finest kidnapping that had ever been in that part of the country'

"Once upon a time, many many years ago in old Mississippi, there lived a beautiful young girl whose name was Rosamond. She lived in a house in the woods with her father Clement Musgrove and her evil stepmother Salome, whose jealousy of Rosamond knew no bounds. One day, thinking to do her harm, Salome bade Rosamond go far into the depths of the wood. Pinning up her long gold hair and donning her new silk dress, the green of sugar cane, Rosamond set off -- there to meet her fate, in the shape of Jamie Lockhart, the dashing young bandit...

"First published in 1942, The Robber Bridegroom is a wild, rich fantasy peopled with legendary figures as memorable as Little Red-Riding Hood [sic], Rapunzel, and Buffalo Bill. Hilarious and poetic, this rollicking fairy tale is at once acid and gentle, wise and gay."
* Delta Wedding (1945, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1982, Virago Press, with an introduction by Paul Binding [ISBN: 0 86068 289 7])
"`His hands took her by the hair and pulled her up like a turnip. On top of the water he looked at her intently, his eyelashes thorny and dripping at her... "I couldn't believe you wouldn't come right up," said Roy suddenly, "I thought girls floated."'

"On the tenth of September 1923 little motherless Laura McRaven travels from Jackson, Mississippi, on a train named the Yellow Dog. She is returning to Shellmound, the family plantation at the heart of the Mississippi delta. There she is swept into the arms of the Fairchilds, her huge collection of entrancing, breathtaking relatives. They have gathered for the marriage of seventeen-year-old Dabney - the prettiest of the Fairchild girls - to a man from the mountains: the overseer Troy Flavin. The ordinary events in the life of this clannish, proud, loving, and quarrelling family are wonderfully portrayed as the great day draws nearer and Dabney's perfect moment lights up the lives of cousins and uncles, aunts and great-aunts, young and old.

"[...] First published in 1945, Delta Wedding is both a wonderfully entertaining portrait of an ebullient Southern family and an exquisitely woven celebration of Southern life."
* The Ponder Heart (1953, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1983, Virago Press, with an introduction by Helen McNeil [ISBN: 0 86068 365 6])
"`I said, "Dear heart, I know the asylum's no place for you, but neither is the top of a real high mountain or a cave in the cold dark ground. Here's the place." And he said, "All right, Edna Earle, but make me some candy."'

"Edna Earle's Uncle Daniel Ponder is quite a character in the town of Clay, Mississippi: he carries a Stetson, dresses fit to kill in a snow white suit, and is as good as gold -- everyone will admit that. But the trouble with Uncle Ponder is he's as rich as Croesus and a great deal too generous. He gave Edna Earle a hotel, and once he even tried to give away his own lot in a cemetery. But when his first marriage to Miss `Teacake' Magee didn't work out, he needed someone else to give things to. So he married seventeen-year-old Bonnie Dee Peacock from a poor backwoods family who `could cut hair and looked as though a good gust of wind might carry her off'. She was carried off, but not by the wind -- and the result, related in Edna Earle's rattling tongue, is a masterpiece of comic absurdity: an uproarious tale of small town life and the deeply eccentric Ponder family.

"First published in 1954, this spellbindingly funny novel was awarded the Howells Medal for Fiction."
* Losing Battles (1970, Random House; 1986, Virago Press [ISBN: 0 86068 761 9])
   "`"It's a bigger reunion than I ever dreamed, congratulations," said Aunt Cleo.
   "Listen!" Aunt Nanny cried, "But it ain't started yet, Cleo"'

"On the hot dry first Sunday of August, three generations of Granny Vaughn's descendants gather at her home in Banner, Mississippi, for a family reunion in celebration of her ninetieth birthday. The action covers two days, but in memory many decades, for the members of this enormous family are wonderful raconteurs. Through a myriad of raised voices we enter their world - both present and past - and as this magnificently orchestrated novel rises to its crescendo, Eudora Welty subtly reveals that battles seemingly lost can also be secretly won.

"In this [novel], first published in 1970, she draws on a lifetime's observation of the people of her native region to produce her finest work of fiction."

(On a personal note, this was the first of her novels that I read, and it overwhelmed me -- if you haven't yet read it, do so, immediately... You'll not rgret it.)
* The Optimist's Daughter (1973, Andre Deutsch; 1984, Virago Press, with an introduction by Helen McNeil [ISBN: 0 86068 375 3])
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"`The guilt of outliving those you love is justly to be borne, she thought. Outliving is something we do to them. The fantasies of dying could be no stranger than the fantasies of living. Surviving is perhaps the strangest fantasy of them all.'

"For a long time Judge McKelva was seen as a reassuring figure by the many who knew and liked him. They looked at him, with his wife Becky and daughter Laurel, and they felt good: that was how well-bred people in Mount Salus, Mississippi, ought to be. When, yen years after his wife's death, the Judge marries silly young Fay everyone is disconcerted: but a lonely old man can be allowed at least one folly. For Laurel, however, her father's remarriage is a difficult an puzzling betrayal. Years later, circumstance brings Laurel back from Chicago: first to New Orleans, then to Mount Salus and the old house of her childhood. It is only here, alone with her memories, that Laurel can finally come to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents."

Short Stories

* The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1981, Marion Boyars; 1983, Penguin Books [ISBN: 0 14 009318 4])
  • A Curtain of Green and Other Stories (1941)
  • The Wide Net and Other Stories (1943)
  • The Golden Apples (1949)
  • The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Stories (1955)
  • Two previously uncollected stories:
    • Where is the voice coming from?
    • The Demonstrators
"`I try,' Eudora Welty writes, `to enter the mind, heart, and skin of a human being who is not myself. Whether this happens to be a man or a woman, old or young, with skin black or white, the primary challenge lies in making the jump itself. It is the act of a writer's imagination I set most high.'
"This collection amply demonstrates Eudora Welty's magnificent talent for inhabiting the inner world of her characters, whether it is a deaf-mute child, a beautician, a jazz player, or a murderer. The events and settings of these stories are varied, ranging from small-town Jackson to plusher New Orleans, from the Depression years to the Sixties, yet they all spring from a distinctive Southern sensibility, from the author's response to the place where she has always lived, which she brings to life with the grace, strength, and intelligence of a born story-teller."

Someone (I'm not sure who, nor how legally) has placed one of Eudora Welty's short stories on the WWW - A Worn Path.


* One Writer's Beginnings (1984, Harvard University Press; 1985, Faber & Faber [ISBN: 0 571 13554 4])
"The William E. Massey Sr Lectures in the History of American Civilisation, 1983"

"In a `continuous thread of revelation', she sketches her childhood and describes how she became a writer. Evocative, humorous, and moving, One Writer's Beginnings is an exploration of memory by one of America's finest living writers, whose m any honours include the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award for Fiction, and the Gold Medal for the Novel."


* The Eye of the Story (1978)


* One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression: A Snapshot Album (1971)

Links to Other Welty Sites

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