Saturday, August 4, 2007
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Where there is great love there are always miracles.
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Willa Sibert Cather, Nebraska's most noted novelist, was born in l873 in Virginia. At the age of ten, she moved with her family to Webster County, Nebraska, and lived on a farm there for two years before moving into the town of Red Cloud.
Many of Cather's acquaintances and Red Cloud area scenes can be recognized in her writings. Cather was graduated from the University of Nebraska in l895. While attending the university, she was a drama critic for the Lincoln Journal. She worked for Home Monthly and the Daily Leader in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and later taught English and Latin at Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She moved to New York and became the leading magazine editor of her day while serving as managing editor of McClure's Magazine from 1906 to 1912. Cather continued her education and received an doctorate of letters at the University of Nebraska in 1917. She also received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of California, and from Columbia, Yale, and Princeton. Cather wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and novels, winning many awards including the Gold Metal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours, about a Nebraska farm boy who went off to World War I. Her novel, A Lost Lady was made into a silent movie in 1925, It premiered in Red Cloud, Nebraska and starred Irene Rich.
Another movie of A Lost Lady was made in 1934, starring Barbara Stanwyck. Other well-known Cather novels include My Antonia,, O Pioneers, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and The Professor's House. Cather died April 24, 1947 in New York. In 1961 Cather was the first woman voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1974 and into the National Women's Hall of Fame at Seneca, New York in 1988. The Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation at Red Cloud, Nebraska preserved her childhood home and other buildings connected with her writings. In 1978 these properties were given to the State of Nebraska to be administered as the Willa Cather Historical Center by the Nebraska State Historical Society. The Nature Conservancy purchased 2l0 acres of native grassland south of Red Cloud in l974, and the following year it was dedicated as the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie. [Nebraska Dept. of Education]
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