Willa Cather (Willa Sibert Cather)
BiographyWinchester, Virginia, USA
Willa Cather was born in 1875 on a small farm close to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. She was the eldest of seven children born to Charles Cather, a deputy Sheriff and struggling entrepreneur, and Mary Virginia Boak Cather. The family's Irish ancestors had settled in Pennsylvania in the 1750s, and Willa cut her hair short and wore trousers to her fashionable mother's chagrin. In 1883 the Cather family moved to join Willa's grandparents in Webster County, Nebraska. Read more... model for My Antonia. Willa attended the University of Nebraska, where she edited the school magazine and contributed to local papers. In 1892 she published her short story "Peter" in a Boston magazine, a story that later became part of her novel My Antonia. After graduation in 1895, became an editor at Home Monthly in Pittsburgh. Her short stories were ultimately published in a collection called `The Troll Garden' in 1905, which brought her to the attention of S.S. McClure. In 1906 she moved to New York to join McClure's Magazine, eventually becoming its managing editor. Over the next two decades, she published such prolific works as 'O Pioneers' (1913), 'My Antonia' (1917), and 'One of Ours' (1922), which won the Pulitzer Prize. Her early novels focused on the destruction of provincial life and the death of the pioneering tradition, though her later novels (including 'The Professor's House' (1925), 'My Mortal Enemy' (1926), and 'Death Comes for the Archbishop' (1927)) reflected the personal despair that followed her commercial success. Willa once said that she belonged to a world that had split in two and, as a woman of two centuries - the conservative 19th and the modern 20th - she bridged the large gap between traditional culture and the uneasy Americanism of new immigrants. She had a keen eye for new-century changes, writing about the most intimate pictures of the inner setting: the heart, the soul, the home. Though there is speculation about Cather's personal relationships with other women, her intimate connections with friends are found in the intense human interactions and nature imagery of her work. She maintained an active writing career, publishing novels and short stories until her death, whereupon she ordered her letters burned and was buried in New Hampshire.