It is my pleasure to share some of the recent activities and upcoming events at the Welty House. Last year I reported on the excitement surrounding the anticipation of two publications: What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell and One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place. Both books have received outstanding reviews, and Suzanne Marrs, Susan Haltom, and Jane Roy Brown are continuing to travel near and far to discuss their books. Both books are available for sale at the Welty House. New items also available for purchase are Thirteen Stories and a tin of book darts with a picture of the Welty House on the front of the tin.
The Scholastic Art and Writing program administered by the Welty House continues to exceed our expectations. This year twenty counties throughout the state were able to participate in the Mississippi regional competition with a 79% increase in entries. Forty-six Gold Key and five American Voices nominees were submitted for national adjudication. The continued financial support of C-Spire Foundation through a grant to the Eudora Welty Foundation, our regional affiliate, made the expansion of the program possible. In addition, Alexandra Franklin, our regional and national level winner in 2009 and 2010, edited The Best Teen Writing of 2011 for the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers this past summer in New York.
On February 24, 2012, we hosted our annual Welty Teacher Continuing Education Unit (CEU) program at the Welty House Education and Visitors Center. Marrs and Peggy Prenshaw led this year’s seminar—“Eudora Welty and William Faulkner: Windows on Culture.” This program was also open to and provided enrichment for our docents.
We have begun an internship program with Belhaven University through their English Department. Interns help in all facets of the Welty House’s operations, including assisting with our educational programs, tours, and other special projects. This partnership provides real-world learning opportunities for the students and invaluable service to the Welty House.
The Shoe Bird, Welty’s only book for children, is the centerpiece of our spring and summer programming. On April 13, Eudora’s birthday was celebrated with cake and “Happy Birthday” sung by the Mississippi Boychoir, who also performed selections from Samuel Jones’s composition, Eudora’s [End Page 170] Fable: The Shoe Bird, first performed by the choir in 2002. Children’s book illustrator Scott Cook will lead a series of imaginative programs for children of all ages about how books are made. These programs are being presented in conjunction with the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) exhibit, “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey.” In addition, new exhibits at the Welty House will showcase The Shoe Bird and its adaptations. During the summer, our children’s program, “Story Time on the Side Porch,” will emphasize the importance of children’s literature and the love of reading.
Our special projects coordinator, Katie Hamm, married on January 7 and moved to North Carolina. We were very sorry to lose Katie; she did an outstanding job at the Welty House. I am pleased, however, to announce that Jessica Jones has filled this position. She comes to us with a proven record of experience. Before moving to Jackson, Jessica was the program manager at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, a nonprofit in Washington, DC. She was part of the team that planned and executed the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. She also helped organize an annual teachers’ conference and launched a partnership with the Close-Up Foundation, both benefiting teachers throughout the United States. Jessica has a BA in English from the University of Mississippi. She is off to a running start and is doing an outstanding job. We are fortunate to have Jessica on our staff.