Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Beginnings: Appreciating Eudora Welty
There are always “beginnings” we reflect upon when we look back at our small successes in life. For me, Mississippi author, Eudora Welty, shares a large part of those memories.
On July 23, 2001, I was teaching a literature course at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire when I decided to guide my students through a literature research project. We had been studying well-known Southern authors like Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner. I was already a Eudora Welty fan, as she inspired me to write a memoir years earlier, which launched my writing career. I still remember her motivational words from her brilliant memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings, where she described her resistance to having her hair cut short at her father’s insistence:
“In those days, they thought very long thick hair like mine would sap a child’s strength. I said No! I’d rather keep my hair. Then Papa said, ‘What about books? I’ll have them send a whole set of Charles Dickens to you, right up the river from Baltimore, in a barrel.’ I agreed.”
I knew at that moment that if I truly desired to become a writer, I had to first become an avid reader. Ms. Welty also taught me passion. Her dedication to her craft had no parameters. So when I decided to introduce her to my college class, I was stunned when I plugged into the internet in my classroom to view the obituary headline of the day:
"Eudora Welty, Grand Lady of American Literature; A Southern Writer Whose Themes Were Universal."