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One Writer's Beginnings (The William E.…

One Writer's Beginnings (The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History… (edition 1998)

by Eudora Welty

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Title:One Writer's Beginnings (The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization)
Authors:Eudora Welty
Info:Harvard University Press (1998), Paperback, 104 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non fiction, biography, 20th century, women authors, America

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One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty



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Begun as a series of three lectures delivered at Harvard in 1983, Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings traces the confluence of events and history, persons and places, that at that late point looking back upon her writing career she takes to constitute her vision or her voice. While much of any writer’s beginnings will inevitably concern their particular childhood — teachers, key events, distant relatives to whom one learns relation — Welty’s lens plays as much upon her parents as upon herself. And so we learn of her father’s move from Ohio to West Virginia, where he met Eudora’s mother. And we learn how the two young newlyweds made a conscious decision to set out for pastures new, settling in Jackson, Mississippi, where later Eudora is born and raised and where her parents remain the rest of the lives, barring holiday excursions usually to family back in West Virginia or Ohio.

Welty has an assured and comfortable gait as she wanders amongst these paths of memory. Without appearing to fixate on telling individuals or activities, she gently associates some of her early experiences with characters in her later stories or novels. More important, perhaps, is the insight she draws from such associations, as though through telling her personal past she is reading her own fiction. The effect is one of clear and penetrating analysis without rancour.

The writing is always a pleasure to read and, though brief, it would be hard not to feel at the end as though one had learned a great deal about Welty, as a writer, through this canvassing of some of her important memories. Gently recommended along with a reminder to go back and read Welty’s fiction — all of it. ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Mar 19, 2014 |
I found this interesting from a historical perspective, though it offered little as an instructional book on writing. It is a gentle look backward in time. ( )
  penelopemarzec | Aug 19, 2013 |
Lately I want to read about writers writing about their experiences as writers. I haven't read any of Ms. Welty's works, although I tried several times years ago and put them aside early into the work. This memoir is just that, a memoir of her childhood and early adult life. Do not expect to read much about being a writer - although she touches on the subject here and there. So now I know a little about her life, with no interest in her books. I read about an ordinary person who enjoyed her childhood, for the most part, and shared it with the world through rose-colored glasses. There is little remarkable about the family that is not remarkable about any family. We all have our stories to tell, and some of us get them published. ( )
  brickhorse | Aug 16, 2013 |
I've been reading one book by Eudora Welty per summer for the past few years. I've been rationing them out, because there aren't many, and I prefer to savor each, rather than greedily devouring them quickly. Her writing is so lovely and evocative and redolent of summer days. But I broke down this summer and took One Writer's Beginnings with me on vacation after having finished The Optimist's Daughter.

The book is a set of three memoir episodes that began as a series of lectures at Harvard in 1983 to inaugurate the William E. Massey lecture series. "Listening" recounts Welty's memories of her early childhood in Jackson, MS; "Learning to See" takes the Welty family and her audience on the road to West Virginia and Ohio where Eudora and her family travelled in the summers to visit her parents' families; and in "Finding a Voice," Welty ponders some of her early writing influences. While the third section is interesting, it is in the first two that Welty's storytelling gifts shine. She lets us breathe the air of the post WWI decades of small town and country life in America.

The idea of driving thousands of miles in a 1917 Model T with two children in the back seat absolutely boggles my mind.

Edward and I rode with our legs straight out in front of over some suitcases. The rest of the suitcases rode just outside the doors, trapped on the running boards. Cars weren't made with trunks. The tools were kept under the back seat and were heard from in syncopation with the bumps, we'd jump out of the car so Daddy could get them out and jack up the car to patch and vulcanize a tire, or haul out the tow rope or the tire chains. If it rained so hare we couldn't see the road in from of us, we waited it out, snapped in behind the rain curtains and playing "Twenty Questions." ( )
3 vote janeajones | Aug 6, 2013 |
I liked the second half much better than the first. I read this sporadically at lunch and this book didn't lend itself to interrupted reading. Learning about her life and life in the south was very interesting, especially how her parents both left their homes for a common place. ( )
  ccayne | Dec 22, 2011 |
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To the memory of my parents / Christian Webb Welty / 1879-1931 / Chestina Andrews Welty / 1883-1966
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In our house on North Congress Street in Jackson, Mississippi, where I was born, the oldest of three children, in 1909, we grew up to the striking of clocks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674639278, Paperback)

Among the most beloved of American writers, Eudora Welty's stories and novels have entertained us for over half a century. Here, in her memoirs, she writes with her usual candor and grace about how a writer's sensibilities are shaped. As compelling as her stories, as witty as her personality, as finely honed as her fiction, Welty's account of her life is a powerful and fulfilling read.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:46 -0400)

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The autobiography of the fiction writer whose honors include the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for fiction.

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