Eudora Welty: A Biography

Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Biography & Autobiography

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Reviewed by Andrea Sisco

Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi on April 13, 1909 and died July 23, 2001. She was a Southern woman and that simple fact was what initially brought her to my attention so many years ago. I so enjoy the Southern writer. And Eudora Welty is no exception. Welty is a critically acclaimed writer of essays, short stories and novels. Hers are the stories that I return to every so often, always finding something new in them.

Welty's 1984 memoir One Writer's Beginning was her own personal life account. And while that was interesting it is this biography that seems to fill in the blanks with substance; probably because the author had a distance Welty didn't. What I found most interesting is the author's ability to humanize this icon of literature. Welty was first and foremost a woman who though she had an extreme talent, enjoyed humor, loved deeply (even though she never married), had numerous friends (many who were writers), loved her mother (whom people thought dominated Welty) and thought of New York as her second home.

Welty was definitely not the "old maid" some thought she was. She fell in love with a man who cared for her but also was interested in men. She then lost in love with a married man who was stricken with Alzheimer's. But it was the long-term relationship with Kenneth Millar (detective fiction writer Ross Macdonald) that will make your heart skip a beat. They met at the Algonquin Hotel and corresponded with each other twice each month. They only spent a total of six weeks together over the years but they always believed that fate brought them together.

I enjoyed the small items in this book: that Welty admired Langston Hughes's poetry and that osteoporosis took six inches from her five-foot-ten height. Especially touching are the memories of the relationship with Ken Millar.

Marrs book is a complete, considerate and grand account of the life of an important American literary icon. It is a book that I will revisit just like her body of work. Armchair Interviews says her work, like her biography is something to be read, reread and savored.

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