One Writer's Beginnings (William E.Massey Senior Lectures in the History of American Civilization) (The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

One Writer's Beginnings (William E.Massey Senior Lectures in the History of American Civilization) (The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,794 ratings  ·  163 reviews
One Writer's Beginnings Nominated for an American Book Award for Non-Fiction, this series of lectures provides an autobiographical analysis of the life and work of Eudora Welty. Welty's honours include the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award for Fiction and the Gold Medal for the Novel. Full description
Paperback, 116 pages
Published September 11th 1995 by Harvard University Press (first published 1983)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
102nd out of 734 books — 1,805 voters
On Writing by Stephen KingThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.Bird by Bird by Anne LamottWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Best Books on Writing
56th out of 470 books — 748 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Teresa
These speeches-turned-into-print should be of interest to writers and to those who love Eudora Welty's writings, especially her short stories.

Like Eudora, I was born in the South and went to a university in Wisconsin (though she doesn't spend too much time talking of her time there), so there was a lot here to 'locate' (a word she uses twice in interesting ways) me. She was born in 1909, so of course there were differences too. But reading of the 'feel' of her summer trips in the family car (to...more
Shirley Showalter
I've read this book three times. Once as a young professor with an admiration for Eudora Welty. Next as a beginning memoirist myself. Last week I read the book again as a professor teaching memoir to honors students. Every reading has allowed me to notice new things about Welty.

This time I focused on the beautiful, dense sentences in this short book. It took as long to read the 100 pages of this book as many 300-page books take. The students recognized this density also, and we deconstructed the...more
Jason Koivu
If you've never heard Eudora Welty speak, well then my friend, you've never heard Eudora Welty speak.

I found an audiobook copy of this at the library and, liking to hear authors read their own work or talk about their experiences, I picked up this aptly named title. One Writer's Beginnings is of Welty's beginnings in the deep south, early 20th century Mississippi. These lectures, performed by Welty toward in the latter part of her life for a Harvard audience, have a free-flow feel and yet they...more
Cheryl
Writer tips galore.

"The cadence, whatever it is, " Eudora Welty wrote, "that asks you to believe, the feeling that resides in the printed word, reaches me through the reader-voice." She goes on to talk about this voice she hears when she reads or writes and it's funny, because you hear her voice loud and clear when you read this memoir. I kept imagining her sitting on the front porch with a pitcher of iced tea.

Maybe I'm biased because I've lived in the Appalachian mountains and I've lived down...more
Rowena
I knew absolutely nothing about Eudora Welty when I picked up this book. I quite enjoyed her simple retelling of her past, and how she realized she wanted to be a writer. A quick, interesting read.
Karima
A book to put in your treasure chest.

This book is based on a series of lectures (three) given at Harvard in 1983, when Welty was 74 years old. The three sections are titled: LISTENING, LEARNING TO SEE, and FINDING A VOICE.
Here's a snippet from an opening paragraph:

When I was young enough to still spend a long time buttoning my shoes in the morning, I'd listen toward the hall; Daddy upstairs
was shaving in the bathroom and Mother downstairs was frying the bacon. They would begin whistling back...more
Judy
I painlessly came to realize that the reverence I felt for the holiness of life is not ever likely to be entirely at home in organized religion. It was later, when I was able to travel farther, that the presence of holiness and mystery seemed, as far as my vision was able to see, to descend into the windows of Chartres, the stone peasant figures in the capitals of Autun, the tall sheets of gold on the walls of Torcello that reflected the light of the sea; in the frescoes of Piero, of Giotto; in...more
Sue
This book of three speeches by Eudora Welty makes a wonderful companion piece to The Collected Stories which I'm currently reading with friends. The influence of family and memory are important to Welty who gives us pictures of some of the momentous times in her life and the people who made it so. I believe I will read this again someday. It is a short book, but it is full of her life and beliefs about life and writing.
Shelby
To be fair: I hadn't read any of Eudora Welty's fiction before reading this book, her autobiography. That being said, I still don't think many of the stories told in this book would be of interest to casual readers. Some of the details given are interesting in how they present/discuss an early-20th century lifestyle, and Welty does present a few interesting ideas - for example, "one secret is liable to be revealed in the place of another that is harder to tell, and the substitute secret when nak...more
Betsy Robinson
"We were all wrapped by the long ride into some cocoon of our own," says Eudora Welty, describing a long family trip in a car.

In general, this is how I feel listening to Eudora Welty's voice; I've collected all of her recorded works because listening to her evokes in me an altered meditative state of bliss. But hearing her on this three-CD recording of her live reading of a memoir with contemplations on writing (Listening, Learning to See, and Finding a Voice) to an audience--well, it's beyond h...more
Michele
This little booklet serves as a chronicle of Eudora Welty's literary beginnings. I liked how she separated her progress as a writer into sections beginning with "Listening," progressing to "Learning to See," and finally "Finding a Voice." Welty was born in 1909 and came of age in the Twenties, a favorite time period for me, so I enjoyed reading about how her experiences growing up in Mississippi influenced her writing. That said, the book itself didn't capture me and if it weren't for the clever...more
Amanda
This little book is a gem for writers, writer wannabes (like me) and lovers of Southern Fiction and the deep south (Jackson, MS!). Eudora Welty's autobiographical storytelling seemed effortless, and it flowed more interestingly than a lot of novels I've read. I loved how she examined little puzzle pieces (poignant vignettes from her growing up years and family history) and put them together to reveal the big picture of her life's work--her fully realized passion for writing. I envy her perspecti...more
Lori
Nov 07, 2013 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Welty or classic southern fiction
Read this for a recent trip to Jackson, Mississippi, home of Eudora Welty. I have been on a kick about classic southern authors this past year and after hearing her comments on William Faulkner and reading several of her short stories, I wanted to know more about her life. This is a very short book, just over a hundred pages, but I found out more about her personal feelings and influences from this short volume than I have while carefully digging through several lengthy biographies. This is a gr...more
Jamie
Ms. Welty writes in her autobiography about how influential growing up in Jackson, Mississippi and her family were on her becoming a writer. She entitled the three chapters of her book, "Listening", "Learning To See" and "Finding A Voice."

The passage that affected me the most, that made me pause to reflect my own life and writing, was from the last paragraph of "Learning To See:"

"The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own orde...more
Thomas
While there were some snippets of writing genius in One Writer's Beginnings - especially surrounding the idea of confluence - I felt that the majority of this book was dulled by details regarding Welty's winding family tree. Perhaps one would glean great insight in a discussion about this book but I would hesitate to recommend it based solely on its own merit. Ardent fans of Welty searching for more information about her life would love it though.
Francesca
Memorias literarias de Eudora Welty. De una forma brillante y emotiva la autora nos rebela el secreto de su forma de escribir en tres capítulos: 1. Escuchar; 2. Aprender a ver y 3. Encontrar una voz.
Es además un texto emotivo en el que Welty habla de sus recuerdos, sus sueños y de como ambos se combinaron desde el primer momento en sus relatos.
De lectura imprescindible.

bookczuk
Oh glorious Eudora! A Southern treasure! Be sure to read about the set of Charles Dickens that her mother scrimped and saved to buy. And how, when the house caught on fire, heck with saving the children, Mama ran upstairs through the smoke and flames to save the books by throwing them out the window to safety...
Rachel Kristine
I'm doing a project on Eudora Welty for school. I read this book in order to do the biography part of the project. The thing is, I didn't mind reading it. I actually was interested and drawn into the book. Welty has an incredible diction and even in this autobiography, you can make out some of the same writing styles as in her short stories.
In this book, she covers her childhood and how she came about writing for a living. Much of it is about her childhood and what inspired her through that. It...more
Rebecca  Einstein Schorr
Oh my goodness -- I am just loving this book. I find myself lingering over certain passages, rereading them, trying to soak up the beautiful narrative.
John
Welty has a delicate way of describing the world around her, one that works its way almost unannounced into your thoughts. Her imagery is extremely vivid, offering a clear portrayal of her world growing up. I especially like the first chapter of the book, as she captured well the excitement and the mystery of early childhood. There's a kind of unpredictability to these early narratives that echoes the way a child might string together their own thoughts or stories. The most touching moments of t...more
Gina
I wanted to read this book because I am looking for inspiration as a writer. This book is actual a short lecture series (104 pgs) she gave in 1983 at the William E Massey Sr Lectures in the History of American Civilization. She focuses on 3 main areas, Listening, Learning to See and Finding a Voice. As a child she listened, as an older child and college student, she learned to see and as an adult in life, she found her voice. Eudora was born in 1909 as the eldest of 3 children. She writes in suc...more
Linda
I relished this book for its hints to the would-be writer. And,I got more than writing tips from these three long essays. So many of Eudora Welty's reference points have the same references that resonate in my life that I often became lost in recollection as I read about her family. Welty's father, a traveling insurance salesman, rode the trains for his work. He took her on train trips and her child's view of the landscapes passing by tripped all kinds of visceral responses within me. I too was...more
Alison
I read this years ago when I first discovered Eudora Welty's writing and then I picked it up from the high school library's discard shelf a few weeks ago to reread it. Welty seamlessly weaves observations about her writing process into memories from her early life and interesting details about her family. (I wish I'd known her mother.) And now I look forward to re-experiencing her fiction.

A few quotes:

"My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dicke...more
Dnicebear
A little after 1pm on Sunday I entered the Oakland main library, along with a mass of readers, wise and wizened, old and young. Once inside, I headed straight for the Biography section to find this book that I'd read about in a friend's review.

To read the well-chosen words of a woman who was a life long listener for stories as well as a writer fortifies and inspires me. I love that Ms Welty begins her career by listening, then seeing, and her career takes off when she travels. "Takes off" is pro...more
Robin
What a resonant, passionate voice Eudora Welty has. I've read only a very few selections of her short fiction, and now I want to go find and gobble up the rest of all that she has written.

Through her reflections on her childhood, Welty connects the deep relationships within her family--her own relationships with her father and mother, but more significantly the relationships she observed and absorbed between her parents and of her parents with her grandparents--to the vivid and profoundly moving...more
James
One Writer's Beginnings is divided into three sections, representing the three individual lectures: "Listening", "Learning to See", and "Finding a Voice". As I read "Listening," -- another possible title for it would be "Observing". Her parents were obviously an influence on her and her powers of observation—the differences and similarities between these two important people in her life, their separate tastes and talents, the daily habits of their family—are insightful and fascinating to read. T...more
Tawny
Favorite lines:
1. "It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass" (6).
2. "My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him" (7).
3. "I don't believe that my anger showed me anything about human character that my sympathy and rapport never had" (43).
4. "The frame through...more
Maryka Biaggio
Eudora Welty is known for some of the best short stories of the American vernacular. Here she recounts her childhood and early adult years. We see her love of language and marvel at how she evolved into a writer of substance. The rhythm of the sentences in this book is nothing less than charming. I can't resist quoting a bit. It is best read out loud:

“Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been a line read that I didn’t hear. As my eyes followed the sent...more
aPriL meows 'n growls TLDR
Eudora Welty's parents were lovely people, and despite tragedies and challenges provided a perfect home that nurtured Welty gently into the world. The writing is beautiful and evocative of the 1900's, and of growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. Even though it is a very short book for an autobiography, I highly recommend it, not only for the writing, but as an example of a beautifully constructed autobiography of brief dimensions.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Writing a Woman's Life
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
  • Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
  • The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art
  • On Becoming a Novelist
  • A Writer's Diary
  • Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
  • Becoming a Writer
  • Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life
  • The Writing Life
  • Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
  • Fierce Attachments: A Memoir
  • Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication & Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams
  • Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
  • A Childhood: The Biography of a Place
  • From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
  • Starting from Scratch
  • Journal of a Solitude
7973
Eudora Alice Welty was an award-winning American author who wrote short stories and novels about the American South. Her book The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. She was the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America.

Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and lived a sig...more
More about Eudora Welty...
The Collected Stories The Optimist's Daughter Delta Wedding The Ponder Heart Why I Live at the P.O.

Share This Book

“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them -- with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them ...” 221 likes
“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.” 73 likes
More quotes…