We are so accustomed to the familiar ring of the opening clause of Eudora Welty’s “First Love”—“whatever happened, it happened in extraordinary times, in a season of dreams”—that we may have missed the equally evocative ending of the first paragraph: “Venus shone in the daytime in all its course through the new transparency of the sky” (185). These, too, are extraordinary times, and Venus lightens our nights preparing us for her transit across the sun in early June 2012.
The changes in Welty’s cosmos are also extraordinary. We dedicate this number of the Review to Mittie Elizabeth Welty Thompson, who died on March 28, 2012, from the ravaging effects of ALS. I first met Liz and Mary Alice White, Welty’s nieces, at an eighty-fifth birthday party for Welty hosted by Lemuria’s, and I have often bragged that never have there been such sensible, kind, generous, and wise caretakers of a literary life. We readers and admirers, scholars and teachers alike will miss Liz’s ready laugh.
It is in a different tenor that we will miss Karen Redhead as she steps aside after several years of directing the Welty House and Garden, but she, too, leaves an indelible imprint upon Welty studies. Yet another change, the acquisition of Russell & Volkening, Inc., by Lippincott, Massie, McQuilkin Literary Agency (LMQ), marks the end of one of the greatest literary friendships of the twentieth century. But as we have trusted Tim Seldes in his outstanding guardianship of Welty’s work since 1972, we should honor him by respecting his passing of the torch to LMQ. Russell & Volkening will keep its historic name within LMQ, an agency that Seldes believes is “of like mind possessing the energy and vision necessary to accommodate a changing landscape for books” (Home page). In 2009, Narrative posted an interview with Seldes that our readers may enjoy (Seldes).
We present in this EWR a few changes also: poems by Alabama poet laureate Sue Brannan Walker drawn from Welty’s writing; the first Eudora Welty Society Ruth Vande Kieft Prize essay, “Transatlantic Rites of Passage in the Friendship and Fiction of Eudora Welty and Elizabeth Bowen,” by Kathryn Stelmach Artuso; a second comparative essay, this one by Robert Penn Warren scholar Randolph Runyon; and a literary essay, “The Idea of Story Ideas,” by North Carolina poet, fictionist, essayist, teacher, and friend of Welty’s, Fred Chappell. Chappell’s essay was his Townsend Prize [End Page 1] for Fiction address in Atlanta in 2010. The prize is presented biennially to a Georgia writer for the most outstanding work of fiction during the past two calendar years.
EWR 4 begins with several pieces by Welty: a 1948 Jackson newspaper interview that has not been collected, a letter to an Ohio reader after he read One Writer’s Beginnings, and the 1979 Afterword to E. P. O’Donnell’s novel The Great Big Doorstep (1941, rpt. 1979). The novel—especially interesting to read in the post-Katrina era—and Welty’s commentary are introduced to our readers by Emily Owens, a Georgia State University Presidential Scholar and an aspiring fiction writer.
Of course, we have the regulars: Reviews and Practical Matters. Forrest Galey explains changes in the Welty Collection and in accessing materials at MDAH. With the transition of Russell & Volkening to LMQ, there are new directions for permissions. Elizabeth Crews, the inaugural Eudora Welty Fellow, offers a report on her research in the archives during the summer of 2011. Our concluding feature is the Checklist of Eudora Welty Scholarship for 2010–2011 prepared by Cathy Chengges (since 1997!). Welty aficionado and collector John Bayne provides a checklist of works by Hubert Creekmore and Elizabeth Spencer that he has added to his donations to Special Collections at Georgia State University. We intend to continue publishing checklists of collections, such as the works that Dean of the Vanderbilt University Libraries Connie Dowell has just donated, as they are catalogued.
At the March 2012 biennial meeting of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, fourteen scholars presented papers on Welty, three full panels and then some. The...