Long before she won a Pulitzer Prize, or was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, or had her home in Jackson, Mississippi designated as a National Historic Landmark and opened to the public as a museum, Eudora Welty’s works appeared in the Junior League of Jackson’s volunteer news magazine.
And somehow that homely fact fits well into the larger story of one of American’s greatest 20th century writers.
She was very much a citizen of Jackson. After college and, later, studying advertising at Columbia University, she returned home after graduation at the height of the Great Depression because she was unable to find work in New York.
She took a job at a local radio station and wrote about Jackson society for the Tennessee newspaper Commercial Appeal, later working for the Works Progress Administration, where she collected stories, conducted interviews, and took photographs of daily life in Mississippi. By 1936, she turned to writing full-time and slowly, one published story after another, became a famous author.
Even years later, after gaining a seat on the staff of The New York Times book review and a Guggenheim Fellowship grant that allowed her to travel to France, England, Ireland, and Germany, she returned to Jackson to care for her elderly mother and two brothers – all of them living together in the house that is now a National Historic Landmark.
Eudora Welty died on July 23, 2001, in Jackson, and is buried there. She never married, and she stayed close to her Jackson roots.