EUDORA WELTY (1909-2001) was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and attended the Mississippi State College for Women, the University of Wisconsin, and Columbia University (where she studied advertising). In addition to short fiction, Welty wrote novels, novellas, essays, and reviews, and was the winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
First published in 1945, Delta Wedding established Welty as one of the most poetic and memorable writers of the Southern Renascence. Set in 1923 in the Mississippi Delta town of Fairchilds, the wedding in question is that of Dabney Fairchilds, daughter of the most prominent plantation family in the region, and Troy Flavin, the family's overseer. How the family comes to terms with the social diminishment it must absorb by Dabney's willful choice is only one subject of Welty's subtle story. Others are the absorption of Laura McRavin, an orphaned cousin, into the Fairchilds clan and the reconciliation of the favorite son, George, with his socially inferior wife, Robbie. Chock full of eccentric aunts, children with odd names like Bluett and Little Battle, and the hovering threat of disaster, this complex and beautiful tale contains many themes that were the source material for later Southern writers such as Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor. Narrator Sally Darling has the perfectly modulated, softly dramatic Southern accent to convey the mood of post-Reconstruction Mississippi, where a powerful family with its plantation traditions cannot resist the slow erosion of democracy. Recommended for all collections.-Sharon Cumberland, Seattle Univ.