American Masters -- PRAIRIE TO PARIS -- Exploring the Worlds of MY ANTONIA and THE SUN ALSO RISES
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MY ANTONIA: Willa Cather Bio
To learn more about Willa Cather, visit the AMERICAN MASTERS site WILLA CATHER: THE ROAD IS ALL.

Willa Sibert Cather was born in 1873 in Back Creek Valley, Virginia. Nine years later, her family relocated to Red Cloud, Nebraska, the prairie town that inspired the settings of many of her novels. She insisted on attending college and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1895. After graduating, Cather moved to Pittsburgh, where she taught high school English and Latin while contributing short stories to Home Monthly and McClure's magazines.

In 1906, Cather moved to New York City to work for McClure's magazine, first as an editor and then as managing editor. She published her first novel, ALEXANDER'S BRIDGE, in 1918. The novel received modest reviews, and after obtaining advice from fellow novelist Sarah Orne Jewett Cather honed her voice and focused her writing on her native Nebraska. Her next novel, O PIONEERS! (1913) explored the American West and was a critical success. This novel was followed by THE SONG OF THE LARK (1915), MY ÀNTONIA (1918) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning ONE OF OURS (1922). Cather continued to write throughout her life, and published a total of twelve novels.

Willa Cather is recognized as an important writer in American literature and has been honored with many awards, including the gold medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. She died on April 27, 1947, in the New York City apartment she shared with her longtime companion, Edith Lewis.

Willa Cather in a field

Willa Cather at a desk

PRAIRIE TO PARIS American Masters