The most important and heartbreakingly-jealously inducing thing I learned yesterday at the Southern Festival of Books is that Mississippi is publishing a biography of Eudora Welty aimed at the YA market. Well, sort of. I had a long talk with the author, Carolyn Brown, and it seems what she really has in mind is a biography that would be suitable for a YA audience, so it can sit happily on library shelves in middle and high schools, but that will also be an accessible quick-read biography for adults who may want to know something about the subject more than what Wikipedia can provide, but who don’t want to sit down to some massive tome. (She said that she’s been really pleasantly surprised by how many elderly people who knew Welty and her family are delighted with the book.)
You don’t always think “university press” when you think ostensible kids’ book, but my god, this is right up a university press’s alley. It’s something you’d want to have scholarly rigor, probably something that’s going to have strong regionally appeal, and that libraries will eat up. Three things university presses know a lot about.
I am really excited to see if this is the start of something for Mississippi. It seems so smart–a natural area for university presses, but certainly one that wasn’t being realized before now.