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Women of the Hall

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Year Honored: 1988
Birth: 1873 - Death: 1947
Born In: Virginia, United States of America
Died In: New York, United States of America
Achievements: Arts
Educated In: Nebraska
Schools Attended: University of Nebraska
Worked In: Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts

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Willa Cather

Willa Cather grew up in Red Cloud, Nebraska. As an adolescent, she defied the norms for girls: she cut her hair short, wore trousers, and openly rebelled against the roles girls were supposed to play. At the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she edited the school magazine and published articles and play reviews in local papers. After graduating, she languished awhile in Red Cloud until she was offered a position editing Home Monthly in Pittsburgh. While editing that magazine, she wrote short stories to fill its pages. These stories, published in a collection called the Troll Garden in 1905, brought her to the attention of S.S. McClure. She became a member of the staff of McClure's Magazine and finally, its editor. In 1912, after five years with McClure's, she left the magazine to have time for her own writing. She subsequently published her first five novels. These novels announced her themes of strong women, the fight against provincial life, and the dying of the pioneer tradition. This was the period of O Pioneers (1913), Song of the Lark (1915), My Antonia (1918), One of Ours (1922), and A Lost Lady (1922). She won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. After this prolific period, Cather entered a period of despair. It was a time, she said, when the world broke apart. Recovering from this difficult period, she wrote her greatest novels: The Professor's House (1925), My Mortal Enemy (1926), Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), and "Shadows on the Rock" (1931). These works are the best example of her classic and restrained language and her lyrical evocation of nature. There always seemed to exist a tension in Willa Cather's life and, thus, in her writing. She was drawn to the East coast, its mountains and cities. And, she was drawn to the plains and the vastness of Nebraska. She loved the romantic literature of France, yet her own writing style was one of classic restraint. Most of her work is autobiographical in nature, yet before she died she ordered her letters burned so no one could have access to her. She had a large circle of friends, yet to write she needed the solitude of Nebraska or New Hampshire. Red Cloud, Nebraska, her home, both attracted and repelled her; it was also the source of her art. Cather continued to write for the next 16 years, although she was becoming increasingly frail. She died in 1947.
Additional Sources:

Wagenknecht, Edward. Willa Cather. New York: Continuum, 1994. NOTES: ""Literature and life. American writers"" series. ""A Frederick Ungar book."" Includes index. Bibliography: p. [193]-195.

Shaw, Patrick W. Willa Cather and the art of conflict: re-visioning her creative imagination. Troy, New York: Whitston Pub. Co., 1992. NOTES: Includes bibliographical references and index.

O Pioneers. New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1913.

The Song of the Lark. New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1915

My Antonia. New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1918.

One of Ours. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922.

Death Comes for the Archbishop. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927.

Shadows on the Rock.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931

Willa Cather in Europe; her own story of the first journey.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.