One Writer's Beginnings

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Harvard University Press, 1984 - Biography & Autobiography - 104 pages
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Now available as an audio CD, in Eudora Welty's own voice, or as a book.

Eudora Welty was born in 1909 in Jackson, Mississippi. In a "continuous thread of revelation" she sketches her autobiography and tells us how her family and her surroundings contributed to the shaping not only of her personality but of her writing. Homely and commonplace sights, sounds, and objects resonate with the emotions of recollection: the striking clocks, the Victrola, her orphaned father's coverless little book saved since boyhood, the tall mountains of the West Virginia back country that become a metaphor for her mother's sturdy independence, Eudora's earliest box camera that suspended a moment forever and taught her that every feeling awaits a gesture. She has recreated this vanished world with the same subtlety and insight that mark her fiction.

Even if Eudora Welty were not a major writer, her description of growing up in the South--of the interplay between black and white, between town and countryside, between dedicated schoolteachers and the public they taught--would he notable. That she is a splendid writer of fiction gives her own experience a family likeness to others in the generation of young Southerners that produced a literary renaissance. Until publication of this book, she had discouraged biographical investigations. It undoubtedly was not easy for this shy and reticent lady to undertake her own literary biography, to relive her own memories (painful as well as pleasant), to go through letters and photographs of her parents and grandparents. But we are in her debt, for the distillation of experience she offers us is a rare pleasure for her admirers, a treat to everyone who loves good writing and anyone who is interested in the seeds of creativity.

 

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User Review  - FKarr - LibraryThing

As always, I most enjoyed the genealogy and family history she shared. Not being a writer, I found her description of how she found her characters to be unconvincing. Was she deceiving herself though ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - viviennestrauss - LibraryThing

I don't know exactly what I was expecting from this little book but I wasn't expecting to practically weep through the entire thing. Welty's relationship with her parents made me think of mine with my parents and how little I truly know about either of them. Read full review

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About the author (1984)

Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi on April 13, 1909. She was educated at the Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and at the University of Wisconsin. She moved to New York in 1930 to study advertising at the Columbia University business school. After her father's death, she moved back to Jackson in 1931. She held various jobs on local newspapers and at a radio station before becoming a publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal program. Travelling through the state of Mississippi opened her eyes to the misery of the great depression and resulted in a series of photographs, which were exhibited in a one-women show in New York in 1936 and were eventually published as One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression in 1971. She stopped working for the WPA in 1936. Her first stories, Magic and Death of a Travelling Salesman, were published in small magazines in 1936. Some of her better-known short stories are Why I Live at the P.O., Petrified Man, and A Worn Path. Her short story collections include A Curtain of Green, The Golden Apples, The Wide Net and Other Stories, and The Bride of Innisfallen and Other Stories. Her first novel, The Robber Bridegroom, was published in 1942. Her other novels include Delta Wedding, The Ponder Heart, Losing Battles, and The Optimist's Daughter, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. She received the gold medal for fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972. Her nonfiction works include A Snapshot Album, The Eye of the Storm: Selected Essays and Reviews, and One Writer's Beginnings. She died from complications following pneumonia on July 23, 2001 at the age of 92.