Eudora Welty and Fannye Cook were two of the most significant Mississippians of the twentieth century—one a founder of a state agency and the Museum of Natural Science, the other an internationally acclaimed writer and photographer. What’s less well known is that for years the two women lived in the same house. Cook was a boarder in the Welty home for some 15 years, moving out in 1955-56. On Thursday, January 18, the editors of a new biography of Cook, a living historian, and a Welty biographer will trace Cook’s life while focusing on the interactions between Eudora Welty, her family, and Fannye Cook.
Beginning at 5 p.m., editors Marion Barnwell and Libby Hartfield will sign copies of the book Fannye Cook: Mississippi’s Pioneering Conservationist by the late Dorothy Shawhan, published by University Press of Mississippi. Barnwell is professor emerita of English at Delta State University, and Hartfield is director emerita of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
At 5:30, retired Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks wildlife biologist Cathy Shropshire will portray Cook, followed by Barnwell and Hartfield. who will discuss Cook’s life. Welty biographer Suzanne Marrs will read letters Welty wrote that include anecdores about Cook. The evening will close with the opportunity to visit the quarters where Cook lived in the Welty home.
The free event will take place in the Eudora Welty House and Garden Education and Visitors Center, 1109 Pinehurst. No reservations are needed, but seating is limited. Refreshments will be served courtesy of the Eudora Welty Foundation and Bookfriends of University Press of Mississippi. Copies of Fannye Cook: Mississippi’s Pioneering Conservationist will be for sale on site. Call the Eudora Welty House and Garden at 601-353-7762 for more information.
Photo of Fannye Cook with white-tailed deer exhibit, published in the Mississippi Game and Fish Magazine in 1953, and book jacket courtesy University Press of Mississippi.