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Tell about Night Flowers

Eudora Welty's Gardening Letters, 1940-1949

Julia Eichelberger

Publication Year: 2013

Tell about Night Flowers presents previously unpublished letters by Eudora Welty, selected and annotated by scholar Julia Eichelberger. Welty published many of her best-known works in the 1940s: A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, The Robber Bridegroom, Delta Wedding, and The Golden Apples. During this period, she also wrote hundreds of letters to two friends who shared her love of gardening. One friend, Diarmuid Russell, was her literary agent in New York; the other, John Robinson, was a high school classmate and an aspiring writer who served in the Army in WWII, and long the focus of Welty's affection.

Welty's lyrical, witty, and poignant discussions of gardening and nature are delightful in themselves; they are also figurative expressions of Welty's views of her writing and her friendships. Taken together with thirty-five illustrations, they form a poetic narrative of their own, chronicling artistic and psychic developments that were underway before Welty was fully conscious of them. By 1949 her art, like her friendships, had evolved in ways that she would never have predicted in 1940. Tell about Night Flowers not only lets readers glimpse Welty in her garden; it also reveals a brilliant and generous mind responding to the public events, people, art, and natural landscapes Welty encountered at home and on her travels during the 1940s. This book enhances our understanding of the life, landscape, and art of a major American writer.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. 1-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

This work would not have been possible without the support and generosity of Eudora Welty’s nieces, Mary Alice Welty White and the late Elizabeth Welty Thompson. I am very grateful to them for trusting me with this project, and I thank Mary Alice for meeting with me...

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Introduction: Gardener, Friend, and Artist

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pp. xiii-xxx

Eudora Welty (1909–2001) is an acknowledged master of the short story form. For over fifty years, such Welty stories as “Why I Live at the P.O.,” “A Worn Path,” “Petrified Man,” and “Livvie” have appeared in anthologies and textbooks treating short fiction, literature by...

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Editorial Note

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

The letters in this book come from the Eudora Welty Collection in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to letters Welty wrote, this collection holds hundreds of letters Diarmuid Russell and John Robinson sent to Welty, and I have...

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Chapter One: May 1940–December 1941

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pp. 3-46

When Welty wrote her first letter to Diarmuid Russell in May of 1940, at the age of thirty-one, she was not famous, but her fiction had been successful enough to attract Russell’s attention as he sought clients for his new literary agency. A native of Jackson, Welty had graduated from the University of Wisconsin...

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Chapter Two: January 1942–August 1943

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pp. 47-95

By January 1942 Welty and Russell were planning for her next book, a group of stories that were all connected to the Natchez Trace, an ancient trail running from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The setting of the Trace was inspiring Welty to...

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Chapter Three: September 1943–October 1944

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pp. 97-142

During the summer of 1943, Welty had closed a letter to Robinson with the phrase “I still water the garden” (8.21.43); unsure how he had fared during the invasion of Sicily, she tried to maintain a hopeful outlook. Throughout the following year, Welty...

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Chapter Four: October 1944–December 1945

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pp. 145-178

Back in her Jackson garden in October 1944, Welty was still anxious about Robinson, who was volunteering to accompany pilots from his squadron on night missions in northern Italy. The end of the war now seemed much farther off than it had in A...

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Chapter Five: January 1946–October 1949

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pp. 181-226

By early 1946, many of Welty’s wishes during the war years had come true: the war was over and friends and family were safe; John Robinson was out of the army and back in Jackson; Delta Wedding, which turned out to be a novel after all, was serialized...

Appendix: Correspondence from Eudora Welty, Diarmuid Russell, and John Robinson

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pp. 227-237


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pp. 238-255


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pp. 256-259

Index [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 260-275

E-ISBN-13: 9781621039587
E-ISBN-10: 1621039587
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617031878

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867740303
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Tell about Night Flowers

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Subject Headings

  • Eichelberger, Julia, -- 1959- -- editor.
  • Welty, Eudora, -- 1909-2001 -- Correspondence.
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
  • Russell, Diarmuid, d. 1973 -- Correspondence.
  • Robinson, John, 1909-1989 -- Correspondence.
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