"Listening," "Learning to See" and "Finding a Voice," Eudora Welty entitled the three chapters of her autobiography "One Writer's Beginnings," the concluding entry in this collection, one of the two Library of America compilations dedicated to her work. And while these may be steps that most writers will undergo at some point, Welty's compact autobiography is notable both because it allows a rare glimpse into the celebrated writer's otherwise fiercely protected private life and it illustrates the roots from which sprang such extraordinary protagonists as "The Ponder Heart"'s Edna Earle and Daniel Ponder, Miss Eckhart and the Morgana families in "The Golden Apples" and, of course, the anti-heroes of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Optimist's Daughter," Judge McKelva, his second wife Fay and (most importantly) his daughter Laurel.
"All serious daring starts from within."
"Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading."
"It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them ..."
"Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it's an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole."
"She read Dickens in the same spirit she would have eloped with him."
"Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it."