Although she was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Eudora Welty was also that rare thing in the literary field - an author who is more well-known for her short stories than for her essays, novels, or poems. From an early age she loved the written word, and her mother, an educator, instilled in her a love for reading, telling her that every room in the house was designed to be a perfect room for reading. From her father, she derived her love of anything mechanical and technical - he was a tinkerer - and he also encouraged her love of photography, which she also took to a professional level.
Welty had fertile soil for creating rich, complex and typically Southern characters as she grew up, and working at the Works Progress Administration, the largest employer of workers involved in special projects and infrastructure building that America had seen to date, gave her access to a wealth of stories of human relationships. For three years she held meetings of her writer friends at her house - she called them the Night Blooming Cereus Club - and then she took the plunge, leaving her job, and becoming a full time writer.
Welty's first published short story was The Death of a Travelling Salesman, in 1936. She built on the success of this first story with others, becoming published in all of the most prestigious literary magazines, and eventually publishing her first book of short stories, which included her most well-known story, A Worn Path. A Worn Path tells the tale of an elderly African American woman who has walked a known route into town from her rural home in the middle of nowhere, simply to get medicine needed by her grandson. When her grandson dies she experiences grief she has never known before and the story shows that someone who is not a traditional, epic hero can still nonetheless be heroic. The heroism in small acts of everyday people is the overriding theme in all of Welty's stories.
Another of Welty's stories, Where is the Voice Coming From?, was published in The New Yorker, and was written in the first person from the point of view of the assassin who killed civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
Why I Live at the P.O. was published in "The Atlantic Monthly" and tells the story of a sister who has become estranged from her family and finding herself homeless ends up living at her place of work - the post office. The story is considered to be Welty's finest example of Southern Literature, which concentrates on the themes of family significance, one's role in the community, and religion; it also deals with racial tension and social class. Like many exponents of Southern Literature, Welty also likes to use Southern dialect in her writing, specifically that used in more rural areas.
Reflective of her prominence within Southern Literature, Welty was a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a literary organization formed in 1987 by twenty one writers, and as well as her Pulitzer Prize, was also awarded the Rea Award for the Short Story; other winners of this prestigious award are Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, and John Updike.