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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stumbling on 'cause and effect'

“Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer's own life.” Eudora Welty

Welty went on the trail of such writing and self-discovery in the early 1930s, diving into journalism and photojournalism to help care for her family after her father died from leukemia.  Ultimately, she became one of America’s premiere writers about the American Southern Experience and the first living author to have works published by the Library of America.  Honored just before her death in 2001 with the Medal of Freedom for her life’s work, she also won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter.

Born on this date in 1909, she developed a deep love of reading early on, reinforced by a mother who believed that "any room in the house, at any time in the day, was there to read in, or to be read to."   The house in which Eudora grew up and ultimately lived much of her life, has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as a museum.
             Welty was often called “America’s Favorite Auntie”  

As a WPA employee in the mid-‘30s, Welty documented daily life and the effect of WPA efforts in Mississippi through both her words and photos.  In 1971 she published one of the definitive photo books about the experience, One Time, One Place, and many of her books and short stories are reflective of the hard times and individual hardships she  observed. 

Never afraid to speak out against injustice, Welty said “All serious daring starts from within.  To imagine yourself inside the life of another person... is what a storywriter does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose.”

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