udora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on April 13, l909. She attended Jackson public schools, Mississippi State College for Women, the University of Wisconsin, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Miss Welty died on Monday, July 23, 2001 in Jackson where she had lived and worked her entire career.

Her work

As short story writer, novelist, and essayist, she has received virtually every award this nation can give. They include the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award for Literature, the Edward McDowell Medal, the Gold Medal for the Novel from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Bobst Award in Arts and Letters, eight O. Henry Memorial Prizes, the Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Book Award for Paperback Fiction, The St. Louis Literary Award, the Lillian Smith Award, the Common Wealth Award from the Modern Language Association, the Phi Beta Kappa Association Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Freedom Medal of Honor twice, from President Jimmy Carter and President Ronald Reagan.

In l988, in a rare instance honoring a living American, Miss Welty's portrait was hung in the National Portrait Gallery.

The Welty Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson:

Since 1957 Miss Welty has given her manuscripts, photographs, and other materials to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. In 1988 a guide to the Welty collection in MDAH was published to aid scholars who come from all over the world to use the collection.

Click here for a retrospect of Eudora Welty's work.

The Welty Home

Eudora Welty deeded her Pinehurst Street home to the Department or Archives and History in 1986, subject to a life-estate interest. In 1999 the Eudora Welty Foundation, Inc., was organized to assist the Department with the conservation of Welty archival material and with the preservation, maintenance, interpretation, and operation of the Welty House, which will be restored as a literary historic house and opened to the public for educational programs. The garden of the Welty House is being restored to the period 1925-1945, the period when Eudora Welty and her mother, Chestina Welty, were active gardeners.

Academic Honors

She has held professorships and lectures at America's leading educational institutions, including Smith College, Bryn Mawr College, Harvard University, Millsaps College, Agnes Scott College, University of Chicago, and Brown University.

Honorary degrees have been bestowed by the above institutions as well as Yale University; Princeton University, Emory University, The University of the South, Denison University, Washington and Lee University, Mount Holyoke College, Tulane University, Washington University, the University of Wisconsin, and many others.

She holds Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Association of University Women, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Governors Association, the National Book Foundation, and Radcliffe College. She was named Distinguished Alumna by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Her work has been the subject of thousands of academic papers and theses.

International Honors

Her books have been translated into virtually every European language as well as Japanese and Russian. Symposia on her work have been held in Russia, France, and Great Britain. In l987 she was made a knight of France, receiving the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French government. In l996 she received France's highest civilian award, the Legion d'Honneur. She holds an honorary degree from the University of Burgundy in France.

Mississippi Honors

Institutions in her native state have honored her in numerous ways: literary symposia on her work are held at Mississippi University for Women and the University of Mississippi. The Eudora Welty Chair in Southern Studies was established at Millsaps College and the Eudora Welty Chair in Humanities at Mississippi University for Women; the Eudora Welty New Playwright Series is held at New Stage Theatre; the University of Mississippi gives the Eudora Welty Award for Creative Writing; and Mississippi Educational Television established the Eudora Welty American Awards.

She has been awarded the Medal of Excellence from Mississippi University for Women and the Mississippi Arts Commission; the Authors Award from the Mississippi Library Association; the Richard Wright Award from Copiah Lincoln Community College; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and the first Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. Governor William Winter proclaimed April 13, 1973, as Eudora Welty Day.

Two buildings bear her name: the main branch of the Jackson Public Library System and the administration building at Mississippi University for Women.

Media adaptations of her fiction

Two Welty novels have been adapted and produced as successful Broadway shows: The Ponder Heart and The Robber Bridegroom, a musical. Several feature films and one-act plays have been made from her short stories. An opera based on The Ponder Heart was commissioned by New Stage Theatre; a symphony based on her work was commissioned by the Jackson

Symphony Orchestra and a choral piece by Millsaps College.

Miss Welty has been the subject of television productions by PBS, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Mississippi Educational Television. She has been interviewed by Dick Cavett, Diane Sawyer, Charles Kuralt, Roger Mudd, Jim Lehrer, and Robert McNeil, among others.


Welty's photographs were exhibited in New York in l936 and l937 and at the Museum of Modern Art in l973 and have been published in many books, two portfolios, and numerous catalogs. Exhibits of her photographs are held regularly around the nation.

* Used with permission from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

About Author Eudora Welty

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