In , Cather moved to Pittsburgh after being hired to write for the Home Monthly ,  a women's magazine patterned after the successful Ladies' Home Journal. During her first year in Pittsburgh, Cather also wrote a number of short stories, including " Tommy, the Unsentimental ," about a Nebraskan girl with a boy's name, who looks like a boy and saves her father's bank business. Janis P. Stout calls this story one of several Cather works that "demonstrate the speciousness of rigid gender roles and give favorable treatment to characters who undermine conventions.
In Cather moved to New York City after being offered a position on the editorial staff of McClure's Magazine , a periodical connected with the publisher of The Troll Garden the year before. During her first year at McClure's , she wrote a critical biography of Mary Baker Eddy , the founder of Christian Science , although Georgine Milmine, a freelance researcher, was named as the sole author. Milmine had performed copious amounts of research, but she did not have the resources to produce a manuscript on her own.
Eddy and the History of Christian Science McClure's serialized Cather's first novel, Alexander's Bridge Most reviews were favorable. The New York Times praised "the dramatic situations and the clever conversations,"  : and The Atlantic called the writing "deft and skillful. These works became both popular and critical successes.
Cather was celebrated by national critics such as H. Mencken for writing in plainspoken language about ordinary people. Sinclair Lewis praised her work for making "the outside world know Nebraska as no one else has done. Knopf which had a reputation for supporting their authors through advertising campaigns. Since Cather was still under contract with Houghton Mifflin for her novels, Knopf published her short story collection, Youth and the Bright Medusa  and advertised the collection in the New Republic. She would publish sixteen books with Knopf. Cather was firmly established as a major American writer , receiving the Pulitzer Prize in for her novel One of Ours.
By the s, however, critics began to dismiss her as a "romantic, nostalgic writer who could not cope with the present. During the hardships of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression , her work was seen as lacking social relevance. Cather's conservative politics and the same subject matter that appealed to Mencken, Randolph Bourne , and Carl Van Doren soured her reputation with younger, often left-leaning critics such as Hicks and Edmund Wilson. She destroyed some of her correspondence and included a provision in her will that forbade the publication of her letters.
Despite this critical opposition to her work, Cather remained a popular writer whose novels and short story collections continued to sell well. As a student at the University of Nebraska in the early s, Cather sometimes used the masculine nickname "William" and wore masculine clothing.
Cather's sexual identity remains a point of contention among scholars.
While many argue for Cather as a lesbian and interpret her work through a lens of queer theory ,  a highly vocal contingent of Cather scholars adamantly oppose such considerations. For example, scholar Janet Sharistanian has written, "Cather did not label herself a lesbian nor would she wish us to do so, and we do not know whether her relationships with women were sexual.
In any case, it is anachronistic to assume that if Cather's historical context had been different, she would have chosen to write overtly about homoerotic love. Throughout Cather's adult life, her most significant friendships were with women.
These included her college friend Louise Pound ; the Pittsburgh socialite Isabelle McClung, with whom Cather traveled to Europe and at whose Toronto home she stayed for prolonged visits;  the opera singer Olive Fremstad ; the pianist Yaltah Menuhin ;  and most notably, the editor Edith Lewis , with whom Cather lived the last 39 years of her life. Cather's relationship with Lewis began in the early s.
The two women lived together in a series of apartments in New York City from until the writer's death in From to , Cather and Lewis lived at No.
Although she was born into a Baptist family, Cather began attending Episcopal services in , and she joined the Episcopal Church in Anyone wishing to reach her could do so by telegraph or mail. Cather was experiencing a long recuperation from gall bladder surgery. A resolutely private person, Cather had destroyed many old drafts, personal papers, and letters. Her will restricted the ability of scholars to quote from the personal papers that remain. Scott Fitzgerald —was published, two years after the death of Cather's nephew and second literary executor, Charles Cather.
Willa Cather's correspondence revealed complexity of her character and inner world. Cather admired Henry James as a "mighty master of language and keen student of human actions and motives. Jewett advised Cather to use female narrators in her fiction, but Cather preferred to write from a male point of view.
She dedicated O Pioneers! Cather also admired the work of Katherine Mansfield , praising Mansfield's ability "to throw a luminous streak out onto the shadowy realm of personal relationships. Cather's high regard for the immigrant families forging lives and enduring hardships on the Nebraska plains shaped a good deal of her fiction. As a child, she visited immigrant families in her area and raced home in "the most unreasonable state of excitement," feeling that she "had got inside another person's skin.
During a brief stopover in Quebec with Edith Lewis in , Cather was inspired to write a novel set in that French-Canadian city.
Lewis recalled: "From the first moment that she looked down from the windows of the [Chateau] Frontenac [Hotel] on the pointed roofs and Norman outlines of the town of Quebec, Willa Cather was not merely stirred and charmed—she was overwhelmed by the flood of memories, recognition, surmise it called up; by the sense of its extraordinary French character, isolated and kept intact through hundreds of years, as if by a miracle, on this great un-French continent. Although Cather began her writing career as a journalist, she made a distinction between journalism, which she saw as being primarily informative, and literature, which she saw as an art form.
Some critics have charged Cather with being out of touch with her times and failing to use more experimental techniques, such as stream of consciousness , in her writing. She had formed and matured her ideas on art before she wrote a novel. She had no more reason to follow Gertrude Stein and James Joyce , whose work she respected, than they did to follow her.
Her style solves the problems in which she was interested. She wanted to stand midway between the journalists whose omniscient objectivity accumulate more fact than any character could notice and the psychological novelist whose use of subjective point of view stories distorts objective reality. She developed her theory on a middle ground, selecting facts from experience on the basis of feeling and then presenting the experience in a lucid, objective style.
At home Alexander follows his wife's interests and at work he's gotten to the point where he consents to using improper materials and accepts the minimum safety standards for his latest and largest bridge project. TAGS: writing fiction. Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers. Her entire school life, Natalie has walked the tightrope without tipping over, that is, until now. This is a light and easy read, but certainly not up to standards as O Pioneers!
Cather's style is not the accumulative cataloguing of the journalists, nor the fragmentary atomism of psychological associations. In a essay on Willa Cather, H. Mencken apologized for having suggested that Cather was a talented but inconsequential imitator of Edith Wharton. He praised her for abandoning New England as a locale for the "Middle West of the great immigrations. The English novelist A. Byatt observes that with each work Cather reinvented the novel form "to look at a new human world.
Cather made her last trip to Red Cloud in for a family gathering following the death of her mother. She continued to stay in touch with her Red Cloud friends and she sent money to Annie Pavelka and other country families during the Depression years. In , Cather published Obscure Destinies , her final collection of short fiction, which contained " Neighbour Rosicky ", one of her most highly regarded stories. Cather and Edith Lewis moved into a new apartment on Park Avenue , and Cather began work on her next novel, Lucy Gayheart , a book that revealed "its author's darkening vision as she began her seventh decade.
Cather suffered two devastating losses in In June, her favorite brother, Douglass, died of a heart attack. Cather was too grief-stricken to attend the funeral. Cather and McClung had lived together when Cather first arrived in Pittsburgh, and while McClung eventually married and moved with her husband to Toronto,  the two women remained devoted friends. When the French army surrendered to Nazi Germany , Cather wrote in her diary: "There seems to be no future at all for people of my generation.
However, the novel was a great critical and commercial success, with an advance printing of 25, copies. It was then adopted by the Book of the Month Club , which bought more than , copies.
Although an inflamed tendon in her hand hampered her writing, Cather managed to finish a good part of a novel set in Avignon , France. However, Edith Lewis destroyed the manuscript, according to Cather's instructions, when Cather died. Cather's remaining papers reveal that Cather had titled the unfinished manuscript Hard Punishments and set it in the 14th century during the papal reign of Antipope Benedict XIV. On April 24, , Cather died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73 in her home at Park Avenue in Manhattan. She had first visited Jaffrey in when she joined Isabelle McClung and her husband, violinist Jan Hambourg ,  staying at the Shattuck Inn, where she came late in life for the seclusion necessary for her writing.
This does not include recent collections of early stories which were originally published in periodicals.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the judge, see William Cather Hook. Truman Capote, however, a personal acquaintance, pronounced her surname so as to rhyme with "bather".