Dr. Pearl McHaney discussed the works of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer during the Friends of the Library annual meeting Tuesday night.
Welty lived most of her life in Jackson, Miss., and “grew up in a home where she was sur-rounded by books,” McHaney said.
Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women and the University of Wisconsin. She went to New York to find work but returned home after her father died and lived in Jackson for the rest of her life.
Welty began writing a column about happening in Jackson for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and later tried her hand at short stories, McHaney said.
Her first short story was published in 1936, and in the two following years, Welty pub-lished nine more short stories.
“That’s when she accepted writing as her primary vocation,” McHaney said. “The source of her fiction was living life.”
McHaney illustrated Welty’s writing through two of her better-known works, the short story Why I Live at the P.O., and her first novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize.
“We see the world and understand others more clearly when we look through Welty’s eyes,” McHaney said.
McHaney said 2009 is the centennial of Welty’s birth.
McHaney is an associate professor at Georgia State University, where she teaches 20th century American literature and secondary English.
She is regarded as an expert on the works of Welty and other noted authors.
This spring, she published two books, Eudora Welty as Photographer and Occasions: Selected Writings by Eudora Welty. She also edited numerous other works regarding Welty. Other books include Eudora Welty: The Contemporary Reviews and Writer’s Reflections Upon First Reading Eudora Welty.
Also during Tuesday’s annual meeting, the Friends of the Library presented a certificate of appreciation to Debra Guinter, who has edited the organization’s newsletter for the past seven years.
FOL President Roberta Charbonneau reported that the organization was able to purchase 357 new volumes for the Calhoun-Gordon County Library’s collection.