Shelby Eatenton Is Real

“How is that baby ever going to understand how wonderful his mother was? How will he ever know what she went through for him?”

— M’Lynn Eatenton, “Steel Magnolias”

A note from author Robert Harling under the cast of character descriptions in the play “Steel Magnolias” reads: “The women in this play are witty, intelligent, and above all, real characters. They in no way, shape or form are meant to be portrayed as cartoons or caricatures.”

Robert Harling was serious. Shelby Eatenton is real.  I don’t mean real in the metaphysical way in that she’s real because I was one of the very fortunate women to bring her to life. Or the countless other women who have proceeded me in bringing her to life. I mean, and he means, she was a real young woman who really lived, and who really died.

She was his sister, Susan Harling Robinson.

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