Short story writer Eudora Welty (1909-2001) was born on this day in Jackson, Mississippi and is known for her literary creations of small-town life in the south.
"I had to grow up and learn to listen for the unspoken as well as the spoken," said Welty, who lived a sheltered but happy childhood. Her writing received critical acclaim and widespread readership.
Welty was an intensely-private woman who believed that writers do not need to reveal their personal life. She once said that she admired artist Georgia O'Keeffe and dancer Martha Graham for their "inviolate independence of spirit in pursuing their arts, the wholeness of their gift of the imagination."
The praise fits Welty perfectly as well. Her books celebrate the honest feelings of life. "The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy," she said.
Welty won the Pulitzer Prize for her beautiful novel The Optimist's Daughter (1973), a profound look at life, death, and closure. She twice received the Freedom Medal of Honor from Presidents Carter and Reagan.
"I would never encourage anyone to be a writer. Itís too hard. Itís just too hard to do," she admitted in her autobiography One Writer's Beginnings (1984). "What I do in the writing of any character is to try to enter into the mind, heart and skin of a human being who is not myself. It is the act of a writer's imagination that I set the most high."
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