Willa Cather

Known primarily for her writings about the American West and frontier life, Willa Cather won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1922 novel One of Ours.
The audio recordings of Libby Larsen's song cycle My Ántonia, provided in the audio playlist to the right, are made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are Danya Katok, soprano, and Dimitri Dover, piano, and the performance took place at SongFest 2012 at the Colburn School.

Photo: Willa Cather, 1936, photograph by Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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    Born in rural Virginia, the eldest of seven children, Cather’s immediate and extended family moved to Webster County, Nebraska when she was nine years old. She was precocious in her childhood and teenage years as well as a tomboy.  She became friends with doctors in the town, graduated high school at age 16, cropped her hair short and went by the name “William” or “Will.”

    Though she entered the university with the intention of studying medicine, Cather realized her talent for writing early on and graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska. In her five years at the university, she was an active writer, working as a journalist for the student newspaper as well as the local Lincoln Courier and Nebraska State Journal.

    Cather moved to Pittsburgh after graduated in 1894, working as a writer for several journals there as well as teaching English. In 1903, her first book, April Twilights, was published. It was a book of poetry.

    She left Pittsburgh for New York City in 1906 to work for McClure’s Magazine.

    Cather’s first novel, Alexander’s Bridge, was serialized in McClure’s in 1912. The next year, O Pioneers!, Cather’s first “Nebraska” novel, is published. In 1918, My Antonia is published

    Cather spent most of her adult life in New York City, though she returned to Red Cloud, Nebraska many times to visit throughout her life.

    –Christie Finn

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