Jarrett Zeman, MDAH Museum Division cataloger, brings us this post in an ongoing series about his work on the IMLS project to catalog, photograph, and create digital object records for MDAH’s Museum Division artifacts.
Eudora Welty displayed some of her most beloved possessions in her bedroom. On a mantelpiece along the north wall, Welty hung three crayon drawings: two women walking along the seashore, two people walking by a waterfall, and a series of seaside cliffs.
The drawings were made by Irish artist, poet, and literary critic George Russell, known professionally as A. E. When Welty studied writing at the University of Wisconsin, she fell in love with Russell’s work. His son, Diarmuid, later became Welty’s agent and sent her the drawings as a gift.
When Welty received the drawings, she was overcome with gratitude. On December 12, 1941, she sent Diarmuid a thank you letter:
I do really believe I love them enough for you to have parted with them. It is wonderful to have these very ones & to see that they are instant & fragmentary & still partake wholly of the same beauty — & to see all filled with a radiance & mystery from the same source.
With her typical literary flourish, Welty also described the day she received the drawings in the same letter:
It was a day that anyone might have got a present: it was like a spell, silver to look at, rain in every breath of the atmosphere, on every leaf & blade of grass…today the drops are falling softly, the birds are singing clearly, & even in my room upstairs I can hear the thrashers walking around under their roof of the magnolia-fuscata branches, thinking the world is green.
With this special gift, Russell made Welty’s world a little greener, too.