Mississippi’s literary heritage does not end with William Faulkner. Although he receives most of the attention as far as Mississippi authors go, many other famous writers called Mississippi home. Eudora Welty was one of these, and her terrific writings have lasted through the years, contributing greatly to the literary culture of Mississippi. All Union residents should know her story.
Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, Eudora Welty was born to Christian Webb Welty and Chestina Andrews Welty in 1909; she enjoyed close bonds with family even at an early age, and because of this, her parents instilled an early love of learning within her, which she carried throughout her life and as a foundation for her works. As a child, she spent much of her time with her brothers, and this enrichment paid off when she attended school because she graduated as one of the most honored graduates of the Jackson Public School System. After high school, Welty attended the Mississippi State College for Women and the University of Wisconsin to obtain her bachelor’s degree. She then went on to study business at Columbia University for graduate school (Marrs). After her educational experiences, Welty worked at several different jobs—the WJDX radio station, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and the Works Progress Administration. While working at these places, she practiced photography and began writing stories. Her first short story was “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” and this story has become one of her most well-known and important works (Marrs), serving as a stepping-stone into her career as a novelist.
Five years after writing this story, Eudora Welty published her first book, which began her career as a novelist. This book was known as A Curtain of Green and included several stories that span both tragedy and comedy. Many of the characters in this book focused in on specific elements from Mississippi, and she also focused on African American characters in some of these stories as well. Throughout her life, Welty published several novels on with various themes—The Wide Net, Delta Wedding, The Golden Apples, and Losing Battles (Marrs). Welty also practiced photography and published many of her photographs. Later in her life, Welty participated in television interviews, won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, earned a place in the French Legion of Honor, participated in a BBC documentary, and was published as the first living writer in the Library of America series. Although she reached great heights of fame, Welty lived in Jackson, Mississippi, all of her life, and on July 23, 2001, she passed away (Marrs). In 2021, one can go tour her home and learn more about her great story.
Eudora Welty’s story truly goes from rags to riches. She started out as a young woman in Mississippi, and through her determination, she became an extremely well-known and successful author. Her story should inspire all Union residents and give everyone something to show pride in. Mississippi has a great literary heritage; Eudora Welty has contributed to this greatly, and now, Union residents know a little bit about her.