Pulitzer Prize Winning Author. Known for her short stories and novels, she received the award in 1973 for her fiction novel, "The Optimist's Daughter" (1972). Her works centered primarily in the American South during the mid-20th century. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, her father was an insurance executive and her mother taught school, who cultivated her love for reading. Following high school, she studied at the Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi University for Women) in Columbus, Mississippi from 1925 until 1927, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wisconsin, where she graduated in 1929 with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. She then went to New York City, New York to study advertising at Columbia University but was unable to obtain steady employment. In 1931 she returned home and worked at a local radio station and also began writing about her home town society for the Memphis newspaper Commercial Appeal. Four years later, she found a job with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a publicity agent, and began collecting stories, conducting interviews, and taking pictures of daily Mississippi life. In 1936 she published her first short story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman." After three years with the WPA, she decided to become a full-time writer. In 1941 she published her short stories "A Worn Path," "A Curtain of Green," and "Petrified Man," followed by her first novella "The Robber Bridegroom" (1942). Her other noted short story collections include "Music from Spain" (1948), "The Golden Apples" (1949), "The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Short Stories" (1955), "The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty" (1980), and "Moon Lake and Other Stories" (1980). Her other novels include "Delta Wedding" (1946), "The Ponder Heart" (1954), and "Losing Battles" (1970). Her autobiographical essay, "One Writer's Beginnings" (1983) was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 32 weeks and was a runner-up for the 1984 National Book Award for Nonfiction. During her life, she received numerous honors and awards, including three first place O. Henry awards (1942, 1943, and 1968), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1969), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1986), the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (1991), the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (1991), the Rea Award for the Short Story (1992), the Charles Frankel Prize, National Endowment of the Humanities (1993), the French Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur (1996), and the America Award (2000). She was also awarded honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois and Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She died of natural causes at her family home in Jackson, Mississippi at the age of 92. Her portrait, painted by Mildred Nungester Wolfe is on display at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.
Bio by: William Bjornstad
"For her life, any life, she had to believe, was nothing but the continuity of its love." - The Optimist's Daughter