Eudora Welty, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1973, is widely recognized as a preeminent novelist and short-story writer.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1909 and educated at the Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi University for Women), the University of Wisconsin, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Welty first worked for newspapers, a radio station, and, during the Great Depression, for the Works Progress Administration in Mississippi.
Welty now ranks as one of the most significant writers of the twentieth century. Her work teaches us about ourselves and about the human spirit. She captures the distinctive southern character, enduring in the midst of change. She helps us understand women’s views of both themselves and the men around them. Thus she illuminates the complicated interrelationships between men and women. She teaches us that the search for meaning often proves complex, multiple, and elusive. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, sees the old civilities of small town Mississippi, along with its snobbishness and sense of privilege, collide with the materialistic values of the modern, outside world. In the novel, Welty analyzes other confrontations and their meaning, such as death and love. She also examines the interdependence of children and their parents.
Her writing has been recognized with numerous awards, including the French Legion of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Award, the O. Henry Award, the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature from the Modern Language Association of America, along with honorary degrees from many leading universities.
Through her short stories and novels, Welty has made a lasting impact on our lives and our understanding of love between people, the fleeting joys of childhood, and the many dimensions and stages of women’s lives.