“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.” EUDORA WELTY (1909-2001)

April 13, 2013 marked the 104th anniversary of the birth of author and photographer Eudora Welty who lived a long and productive life, passing away in 2001 at age 92. Welty spent most of her years in her native Jackson, Mississippi, where she wrote novels and short stories in the bedroom of her family home.


According to the Eudora Welty House website, her writing routine was to start early and write as long as she could, pausing briefly at noon for a light lunch. She viewed writing as joyful work and summer was her favorite time to write — because the neighborhood was especially quiet, with people staying indoors to avoid the Mississippi heat. Her home is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public as a museum.

The photo of Welty at the top of this post shows the author In the editing phase of her work, when she would place manuscript pages on her bed,  cutting and pinning passages together with sewing pins. Later she used rubber cement. (We sometimes forget what writers went through in pre-computer times — when cut and paste was exactly that.)

Eudora Welty was also a gifted photographer — find out more in this Smithsonian article — and one of the most decorated of American authors. Her awards and honors include the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Optimist’s Daughter, 1973), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980), the National Book Award (Collected Works of Eudora Welty, 1983), numerous O.Henry Awards for her short stories, the National Medal of Arts (1986), designation as Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by the government of France, and many other forms of recognition for her gifts as an author.

Find her most renowned novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, at, where used hardcover copies are available for as low as one cent!