Though Eudora Welty’s education and career took her all over the country, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author maintained a residence within her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, until the day she died. That love of place influenced the celebrated Southerner’s every written word—as well as a three-part lecture series on her literary beginnings she gave at Harvard University in 1983.
In honor of those talks, her eponymous foundation has teamed up with that of PEN/Faulkner—named in part for another notable Mississippi author—to bring a new Eudora Welty Lecture series to Washington, D.C. The inaugural address, to be held October 20 at the National Cathedral, will be given by Salman Rushdie, a heralded author who has written twelve books, won the Man Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature.
Rushdie’s homeplace of Mumbai (where he was born in 1947) guided his work in innumerable ways, just as Welty’s hometown influenced her own. “Eudora Welty was deeply attached to, and intertwined with, her own particular place—her state, city, street, house,” says Emma Snyder of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. “She was a writer who drew on her own Southern experiences to create stories that had an essential, universal power.”
During those lectures at Harvard, Welty reflected on how the building of such a legacy was impervious even to the passing of years. “The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily—perhaps not possibly—chronological,” Welty said. “The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”
If you’d like to hear Rushdie’s own revelations, tickets to Thursday night’s event can be found here.