Noel said of Welty, “She was thought of … as somehow inferior to Faulkner. But what goes unsaid is that what lies near a mountain is usually another mountain. Welty has established herself as a new mountain” (qtd. in Wilkie).
Noel Polk’s contributions to southern studies over the past forty years are immeasurable. He was an astute, meticulous editor of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren, and other writers, as well as of the many scholars whose work he edited for journal and book publications. He was a close reader of texts and brought to his critical interpretations an incredible range of cultural knowledge, a quick wit, and the courage to break new ground. He was a gifted teacher who gave his time and attention willingly to students and colleagues. He was a charismatic lecturer invited by scholars around the world to share his literary research. For me, he was a special person, a dear friend, a lovely man.
Noel was born in Picayune, Mississippi, on February 23, 1943. He received his BA and MA degrees from Mississippi College in Clinton, and in 1970 he earned his PhD from the University of South Carolina. A memorial service was held Saturday, August 25, 2012, at the University of Southern Mississippi. Memorials may be given to the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Endowment Fund, P. O. Box 2346, Jackson, MS 39225–2346. [End Page 14]