For the literary among us, history buffs or those who just like a good party, don your best purple millinery Wednesday (April 13) and celebrate the 102nd birthday of author Eudora Welty at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar (214 Royal St.), where she reportedly wrote The Purple Hat, a short story set in New Orleans.
The birthday party is from noon to 2 p.m. and will include a screening of the 2010 movie adaptation of The Purple Hat, a fashion show of purple headgear designed by Fleur de Paris, Purple Hat martinis made with Perfect Vodka, and cupcakes. Tickets are $35 (includes validated parking) and can be purchased by calling 681-4452.
Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Miss., in 1909. After graduating from Columbia University School of Business she worked as a journalist and later was a publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration for which she took photographs that were exhibited in New York in 1936-37.
Her first short story was “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” written in 1936. It was followed five years later by A Curtain of Green, a book of 17 short stories. She published other volumes of short stories, but her first novel was Delta Wedding, published in 1946. Over the next 14 years she wrote seven books, then took a decade-long hiatus. She resumed her writing career in 1970, culminating her Pulitzer Prize-winning The Optimist's Daughter. She also expanded beyond her label as a Southern fiction writer to publish a book of her photographs One Time, One Place in 1971. Her photographs also appear in other books; the last, Country Churchyards, was published in 2000.
Welty received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor for her contributions to literature and was the first living author to be published in the Library of America series.
She died of cardiopulmonary failure on July 23, 2001.
The Hotel Monteleone has a special relationship with the literary world as it has played host to famous authors including Welty, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Grisham and Truman Capote. It also has appeared in the writings of other authors, including Rebecca Wells and Richard Ford. In 1999, Friends of the Library Association designated the hotel an official literary landmark, joining the ranks of The Plaza and Algonquin hotels in New York City.