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Eudora Welty Biography

(1909–2001), One Time, One Place, Photographs by Eudora Welty, A Curtain of Green

American short-story writer and novelist, born in Jackson, Mississippi, educated at the University of Wisconsin. She worked with the Works Progress Administration, travelling throughout Mississippi and taking photographs later collected in One Time, One Place (1971) and Photographs by Eudora Welty (1989). Her first short stories, championed by Katherine Anne Porter, appeared in A Curtain of Green (1941) and The Wide Net (1943) and mostly derive from her experience and observations during this period; the latter includes ‘First Love’ and ‘A Still Moment’, which imaginatively recreate the past and show her heightened poetic apprehension of place. Keenly interested in the past of the American South, she set her first novel, The Robber Bridegroom (1942), in the Natchez Trace country during the last years of Spanish rule, capturing through the medium of a reworked folktale the sense of doubleness she felt peculiarly as a feature of pioneering culture. Delta Wedding (1946), a more orthodox novel, assembles diverse but related characters in a Plantation house in the Mississippi Delta country on the occasion of a wedding. The Golden Apples (1949) is a sequence of linked short stories; it not only portrays a country community (Morgana, Mississippi) from the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century but makes a lyrical assault on time itself, as it translates and consumes a group of interconnected people. The Ponder Heart (1954) carries on Welty's tradition of letting people reveal themselves as they relate events of which they have only partial knowledge and understanding; the novel also shows the author's humour and her affection for the eccentric or displaced person. Losing Battles (1970) covers three generations of a family who gather together one Sunday in the early 1930s, to celebrate the grandmother's ninetieth birthday. The Optimist's Daughter (1972) is a short novel which, in the antagonism between a judge's daughter and her younger stepmother, explores new emotional territory—that of hatred. Her collection of essays, The Eye of the Story (1978), contains reflections on the art of the short story, and the seminal essay ‘Place in Fiction’. One Writer's Beginnings (1984) is an autobiography. Though admired by many different writers and critics, Welty did not achieve wide recognition until the publication of her Collected Stories (1980). See Louise Westling's Eudora Welty (1989), The Still Moment: Eudora Welty, Portrait of a Writer (1994) by Paul Binding, and A Writer's Eye: Collected Book Reviews (1994), edited by Pearly A. McHatlaney.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography