Eudora Welty on Writing: “A sheltered life can be a daring life.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of writer Eudora Welty. She studied literature in college, and she wanted to pursue a career in writing or photography; but her father thought she needed a day job, so she moved to New York City to attend business school and study advertising. When she wasn’t in class, she went to vaudeville shows, toured art galleries, and listened to jazz in Harlem nightclubs.

She spent hours wandering the city, taking photographs of ordinary people in the early days of the Depression. She wrote: “Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it. These were things a story writer needed to know.”

After she got her degree, Welty moved back to Jackson. She worked for a while at Jackson’s first radio station, writing the station’s newsletter. She spent two years as the Jackson society columnist for a Mississippi paper. . . .She felt that the Depression was less obvious in Mississippi than other places, since it was such a poor state to begin with.

In 1936, Welty sent a story called “Death of a Traveling Salesman” to a literary magazine, and it was accepted. She said, “I had received the shock of having touched, for the first time, on my real subject: human relationships

She wrote many stories and novels, including The Golden Apples (1949), The Ponder Heart (1954), The Optimist’s Daughter (1972), and Moon Lake and Other Stories (1980), as well as her best-selling memoir One Writer’s Beginnings (1984).

She said, “I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”


  1. Doris Geenen Graf says

    It might have been in her memoir, that she said her father carried a gun traveling with his family. I thought that was a very strange thing to do. A Wisconsin family would have no reason to do that.

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