Tell about Night Flowers: Eudora Welty's Gardening Letters, 1940-1949

Overview

Tell about Night Flowers presents previously unpublished letters by Eudora Welty, selected and annotated by scholar Julia Eichelberger. Welty published many of her best-known works in the 1940s: A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, The Robber Bridegroom, Delta Wedding, and The Golden Apples. During this period, she also wrote hundreds of letters to two friends who shared her love of gardening. One friend, Diarmuid Russell, was her literary agent in New York; the other, John Robinson, was a high school classmate and ...

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Overview

Tell about Night Flowers presents previously unpublished letters by Eudora Welty, selected and annotated by scholar Julia Eichelberger. Welty published many of her best-known works in the 1940s: A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, The Robber Bridegroom, Delta Wedding, and The Golden Apples. During this period, she also wrote hundreds of letters to two friends who shared her love of gardening. One friend, Diarmuid Russell, was her literary agent in New York; the other, John Robinson, was a high school classmate and an aspiring writer who served in the Army in WWII, and long the focus of Welty's affection.

Welty's lyrical, witty, and poignant discussions of gardening and nature are delightful in themselves; they are also figurative expressions of Welty's views of her writing and her friendships. Taken together with thirty-five illustrations, they form a poetic narrative of their own, chronicling artistic and psychic developments that were underway before Welty was fully conscious of them. By 1949 her art, like her friendships, had evolved in ways that she would never have predicted in 1940. Tell about Night Flowers not only lets readers glimpse Welty in her garden; it also reveals a brilliant and generous mind responding to the public events, people, art, and natural landscapes Welty encountered at home and on her travels during the 1940s. This book enhances our understanding of the life, landscape, and art of a major American writer.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Dominique Browning
&#8230Julia Eichelberger has done an intelligent, sensitive job of collecting previously unpublished letters from a woman who had splendid dreams about camellias and irises…These letters are an invitation to join [Welty] in the green shade of her old trees.
From the Publisher

"This is a beautiful book, a compelling and lovingly rendered gathering of letters that allows a peek inside the twin gardens Ms. Welty tended with such love and care: that of her home there in Jackson, and that of her art. I have never read a book like this--part life of the mind and life of the gardener, intimate and meaningful and startlingly inspired."

--Bret Lott, author of Jewel and Ancient Highway

"This delightful collection of Welty letters displays not only a generous wit and capacity for friendship but the writer's responsive connection to the material world. We see how easily she appropriates the language of the garden for rich scenic detail in her writing--and then often transforms that detail, as she does in her fiction, into striking, memorable metaphor. Eichelberger deepens our knowledge of Welty in a book that is a great pleasure to read!"

--Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, Millsaps College Humanities Scholar in Residence and author of Composing Selves: Southern Women and Autobiography

"Tell about Night Flowers is a joy to read. The gardening letters Eudora Welty exchanged with Diarmuid Russell and John Robinson are by turns witty, pensive, wry, mystical, metaphorical, and practical. Julia Eichelberger introduces and annotates these letters with grace and with keen insight into the profound connection that gardening and creativity had for Welty."

--Suzanne Marrs, editor of What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell and author of Eudora Welty: A Biography

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617031878
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 5/1/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,434,118
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Eudora Welty

Julia Eichelberger is the Mary Belle Higgins Howe Professor of Southern Literature at the College of Charleston. She is the author of Prophets of Recognition: Ideology and the Individual in Novels by Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, and Eudora Welty and articles in the Eudora Welty Review, Mississippi Quarterly, and other publications.

Biography

Although she traveled extensively and lived in various places during her extraordinary literary career, short story writer and novelist Eudora Welty seemed always to return to Jackson, Mississippi, the beloved hometown where she spent most of her adult life and where she undoubtedly drew inspiration for her pitch-perfect regional fiction.

Born into a happy, close-knit family on April 13, 1909, Welty attended Mississippi State College, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, then moved to New York in 1930 to attend Columbia's business school for advertising. A year later, her father's death brought her home. She worked locally in radio, wrote articles for a newspaper, and served as a publicity agent for the WPA throughout rural areas of the state. (A gifted photographer, Welty shot a number of remarkable candids at this time which were later published in the 1978 collection One Time, One Place: Mississippi in the Depression.) A few of her stories appeared in small literary magazines in the late 1930s, but it was not until the following decade that her career took off. Her first short fiction collection, A Curtain of Green, and a debut novella, The Robber Bridegroom, were published respectively in 1941 and 1942.

Although Welty has penned some wonderful full-length novels (The Ponder Heart, Losing Battles, The Optimist's Daughter), it is her short stories -- peopled with peculiar, colorful eccentrics who maintain an undeniable charm in spite of their grotesquerie -- that have cemented her reputation as one of our finest regional writers. During her long literary career she accrued dozens of honors, including multiple O. Henry Awards, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, France's Legion of Honor, and dozens of honorary degrees. On July, 23, 2001, she died peacefully in her home in Jackson, Mississippi. She was 92 years old.

Good To Know

  • Welty worked for a year at The New York Times Book Review, where she wrote about war-related topics under the pseudonym "Michael Ravenna."

  • In 1964, Welty published her one and only story for children, The Shoe Bird.

  • Culled from a series of lectures she delivered at Harvard, Welty's memoir, One Writer's Beginnings, was published in 1984.

  • So legendary was Welty's "niceness" that her agent Timothy Seldes told a wonderful, apocryphal story at her funeral. Supposedly, as the author lay on her deathbed, her doctor leaned over and asked "Eudora, is there anything I can do for you?" Her rumored reply? "No, but thank you so much for inviting me to the party."
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      1. Date of Birth:
        April 13, 1909
      2. Place of Birth:
        Jackson, Mississippi
      1. Date of Death:
        July 23, 2001
      2. Place of Death:
        Jackson, Mississippi
      1. Education:
        University of Wisconsin

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