The little Free Library (right) on the lawn outside the Eudora Welty
Visitor Center in Jackson, MS, is modeled on the writer’s Tudor-style
house next door. Look for a copy of Writers Between the Covers
inside the Free Library.
– Eudora Welty’s abode is preserved almost exactly as it was when she lived there, making it one of the most intact literary residences in America. Indeed, it seems as if the writer (who bequeathed the property to the state of Mississippi) has merely stepped out and might return at any moment to catch you perusing the hundreds of books stacked on the couch, the dining room table, and even in the bathroom.
– Aside from a brief stint in New York City, Welty lived in the Tudor-style house from the age of sixteen until her death in 2001. When random admirers dropped by unannounced to have her sign their books, she graciously obliged.
– Welty crafted her fiction in her bedroom, an upstairs room overlooking the street and a landscaped yard. Next to her workspace is a cubbyhole desk mentioned in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter.
– Welty’s editing process was similar to the way a dressmaker works. She would cut sections from manuscript pages, move them around, and pin them in place.
– After the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was gunned down in his driveway in Jackson on June 12, 1963, Welty put her pen to work. She published the short story “Where is the Voice Coming From?” — inspired by the tragic event and the only piece she ever wrote in anger — in the New Yorker magazine less than a month later. An exhibit in the visitor center has details on this and other aspects of Welty’s life and career.
-- Welty and her mother were avid gardeners, and references to plants and gardening abound in Welty’s works. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the restoration of the Welty House gardens, which include sections devoted to roses (her mother’s favorite flower) and camellias (the writer’s preferred bloom). Click here to take a virtual tour of the Welty house and gardens. To celebrate the anniversary, a ticketed luncheon and lecture with author and columnist Julia Reed is taking place March 27 at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.
– The talented Welty was also a photographer. Some of her atmospheric photos of people, plantation ruins, and more are on display at the Mississippi Museum of Art.