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Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty sits with author Erica Jong, January 1980. Welty's style combines delicacy with shrewd, robust humor.

Robin Platzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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Eudora Welty, (1909-2001), was an American short-story writer and novelist known for her searching studies of small-town life in the South. She lived in Mississippi all of her life, and her affection for the South can be seen in her work.

Welty's style combines delicacy with shrewd, robust humor. The mixture of realism and fantasy in some of her stories gives them an almost mythical quality. Her major themes extend beyond the South—loneliness, the pain of growing up, and the need for people to understand themselves and their neighbors.

Welty's short stories appear in THE COLLECTED STORIES OF EUDORA WELTY, published in 1980. Her longer fiction consists of the novelettes THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM (1942) AND THE PONDER HEART (1954) and the novels DELTA WEDDING (1946), LOSING BATTLES (1970), and THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER (1972). She received the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER. Her essays and reviews appear in THE EYE OF THE STORY (1978). She described the influence of her family and surroundings on her writing in ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS (1984). Her COMPLETE NOVELS and STORIES, ESSAYS, AND MEMOIR were published in 1998. Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi. She died on July 23, 2001.

Noel Polk, Ph.D., Professor of English, University of Southern Mississippi.

From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. By permission of the publisher. Visit World Book Encyclopedia for more information on Eudora Welty and related subjects.

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The American Novel