Eudora Welty House, Jackson, Mississippi
Information courtesy of National Park Service
Eudora Welty was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Welty lived in this house from 1925 until her death in 2001, and wrote all of her major works here, including the short stories that initially brought her critical acclaim and such award-winning novels as Delta Wedding, The Optimist’s Daughter and Losing Battles. The property includes a Tudor Revival-style house constructed by her father in 1925, a garage and the surrounding grounds and garden. The garden was created by Eudora’s mother, Chestina Welty, an avid amateur horticulturist who passed her love for flowers and ornamental plants onto her daughter.
Born in Jackson in 1909, Welty was influenced as a child by her parents’ love for books and learning. After graduating from Jackson’s Central High School in 1925, she spent two years at Mississippi State College for Women, in Columbus and the continued her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, from which she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1929. Welty was encourage by her father to pursue a career in advertising, and she began graduate studies in 1930 at the Columbia University School of Business in New York City, but quickly lost interest. She returned to Jackson the following year, and worked for a radio station and wrote society stories for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. In 1936 she became a Junior Publicity Agent for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a job that stimulated her interest in writing fiction as she traveled around Mississippi, writing newspaper articles, conducting interviews and taking photographs. Inspired by her firsthand exposure to everyday life in the Depression-era South, Welty turned her energies to writing fiction. In 1936 she published her first short story, “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” in the literary magazine Manuscript. The next five years marked the formative period in Welty’s development as a writer. Six of her stories were accepted by the Southern Review between 1937 and 1939, and her first book, a collection of stories entitled A Curtain of Green , was published in 1941 with critical acclaim. The stories in the book demonstrated Welty’s talent for earnest expressions of emotion, subtle recreations of regional speech and thought patterns, tragic portraits of blighted lives and droll descriptions of eccentric behavior. With the success enjoyed by A Curtain of Green, Welty began a decade-long period of extraordinary productivity that established her as a major figure in American literature.