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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.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Once a series of lectures Welty provided, these essays are perfect capsules of her early life and stirrings toward literature. More memoir than writing instruction, the narratives stand as a comment on the writing life and how it begun for one writer more than a functional 'how to" book. But the best books about writing typically feature the writers' lives more than the writing itself. Having never read any Welty, this read was meant as an introduction to her work. After reading how she viewed the world, and necessarily, her characters, I'm eager to try some of her work. The book is a short but terribly evocative read.

5 bones!!!!!
Highly recommended ( )
  blackdogbooks | Oct 30, 2022 |
Since Welty's short story "A Worn Path" is the reason I became an English major, and therefore an editor and librarian and teacher, it would seem churlish to give anything fewer than 5 stars to the story of her own life. Plus it's good. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
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 when she wrote that looking back on the life of her parents and family the the steps -almost stepping stones - they chose were inevitable, were the only path that could have been chosen for the family?
  FKarr | Jul 18, 2021 |
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. ( )
  viviennestrauss | Dec 22, 2020 |
Eudora Welty, master of the American short story, needs no introduction. Her writing chronicles life in Mississippi before and during the Depression era. This memoir was originally given as three lectures at Harvard University in April, 1983. Together, they constitute a repository of our knowledge of Welty’s upbringing and early adulthood – and importantly, her literary influences.

Welty focuses on her family history and varied inspirations for her characters. Through her family and travels, she saw enough of human life to imagine her distinctive characters. She portrays herself as coming from a “sheltered” background yet clearly imbibed everything from what’s going on around her. She saw Mississippi first-hand by traveling to take pictures of real life in the Depression. She also travelled widely – to New York and to school in Wisconsin – and learned from those environments.

She comes off as an ambitious young lady who makes the most of every opportunity handed to her. She learned about life as it came to her, as it presented itself to her. She did not follow a grand plan to success but started with detail. Indeed, after having benefitted from her father’s pre-Depression success in the life insurance industry in Jackson, Mississippi, she eschewed the field of business generally in favor of a writer’s observationally rich yet financially meager life.

In a new edition out in late 2020, Simon and Schuster repackages this work to seek a wider audience of contemporary readers. Literary researchers will find this book especially interesting. Further, a wider audience of writers and book fanatics, who might have been exposed to Welty’s craftsmanship through her short stories or her photographs, might indulge their curiosity by learning about specific experiences that formed this very American writer. To borrow Welty’s imagery, the words flow smoothly from her experiences to the reader. In this “confluence” of a great writer’s mind with their own minds, readers can extend their understanding of the wide world and of deep humanity. ( )
  scottjpearson | Sep 24, 2020 |
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To the memory of my parents / Christian Webb Welty / 1879-1931 / Chestina Andrews Welty / 1883-1966
First words
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.
Quotations
My mother went out to teach in a one-room school, mountain children little and big alike. The first day, some fathers came along to see if she could whip their children, some of whom were older than she. She told the children that she did intend to whip them if they became unruly and refused to learn, and invited the fathers to stay if they liked and she'd be able to whip them too. Having been thus tried out, she was a great success with them after that.
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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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