Willa Cather

Willa Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virginia., on December. 7, 1873. She died on April. 24, 1947. Cather's work made her one of the most important American novelists of the first half of the 20th century. When Cather was nine, her family homesteaded in pioneer Nebraska. She was a tomboy at home in the saddle. enjoyed distinguished careers as journalist, editor, and fiction writer. Cather is most often thought of as a chronicler of the pioneer American West. Critics note that the themes of her work are intertwined with the universal story of the rise of civilizations in history, the drama of the immigrant in a new world, and views of personal involvements with art. Cather's fiction is characterized by a strong sense of place, the subtle presentation of human relationships, an often unconventional narrative structure, and a style of clarity and beauty.

In 1895, Cather graduated from the University of Nebraska. She had first arrived at the University dressed as William Cather, her opposite sex twin. While in college, she fell passionately in love with Louise Pound, a fellow student and athlete. In her book column published in the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal, she condemned Oscar Wilde in 1985. Her first books were a poetry collection, April Twilights (1903), and a short story collection, The Troll Garden (1905). From 1906-1912 she worked in New York for McClure's Magazine and became its managing editor. The writer Sarah Orne Jewett (a lesbian) advised Cather to leave McClure's to focus on her writing. She spent forty years of her life with her companion, Edith Lewis, in New York city.

Beginning with Alexander's Bridge (1912), Cather devoted herself to writing. Many of her books drew on her memories and knowledge of Nebraska. O Pioneers! (1913), My Antonia (1918), and A Lost Lady (1923) offer fascinating explorations of the experience of pioneers of the Plains. In 1923, One of Ours (1922) received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Other well regarded works include The Professor's House (1925), My Mortal Enemy (1926), Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), Shadows on the Rock (1931), Lucy Gayheart (1935), and Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940).

Cather never wrote openly about lesbian or gay themes. Much her work, however, can be interpreted with a lesbian or gay subtext if one knows to look for the clues. Nothing overt would have been tolerated by the publishers (and probably by the reading public as well).

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