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Eudora Welty, Master of the Short Story, Dies at Age 92

Eudora Welty, 92, a writer who was considered a voice of the American South based on her evocative short stories and novels, died of pneumonia on July 23 at a hospital near her home in Jackson, Miss.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with the intention of pursuing writing, Welty went on to study advertising at Columbia's Business School at the insistence of her father from 1930 to 1931. Afterward, she returned to Jackson, where she remained most of her life, having decided that the advertising business was not suited to her temperament. In 1982, Welty received an honorary degree from Columbia.

Welty made a final appearance at Columbia in 1990 to give a talk to graduate students in the Writing Division at the School of Arts. During that time, she also gave a reading to benefit "Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Prose," published by students in the Writing Division.

Reviewing Welty's "Collected Stories" in 1980, Maureen Howard, novelist and professor of writing in the School of the Arts, said, "It is not the South we find in her stories, it is Eudora Welty's South, a region that feeds her imagination and place we come to trust."

Welty was considered a master of short-story writing, although early in her career she was dismissed as a regionalist and did not earn widespread respect from the literary community. In fact, most of her novels began as short stories. She, along with other writers such as William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and Tennessee Williams, was a key figure in the Southern literary renaissance of the 1930's, 40's and 50's that made Southern writing part of the American canon.

Writing for newspapers and radio stations at the beginning of her career, Welty later worked as publicity agent for President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, where she traveled through Mississippi documenting small-town life with an amateur's camera. Random House published a collection of these photographs in 1971. In 1973 Welty won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Optimist's Daughter." She also received the National Book Critics Circle Award, several O. Henry Awards, the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and a Medal of Freedom in 1980.

Published: Jul 25, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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