Posts Tagged Willa Cather
As an English major at a women’s college (Simmons College in Boston), I didn’t read as many women authors as you’d think. I remember a Victorian Experience class with George Eliot as one of the authors along with Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, naturally. I took a wonderful summer course at Emerson College that included Edith Wharton on the syllabus and I immediately fell for her. Upon graduating I’ve made up for not reading that many female authors and likely read more female than male authors. As with any business, I know that the literary world’s filled with many more big-name male authors and lesser-known female authors. More literary prizes go to men than to women. Female authors usually get pushed into the “women’s fiction” a.k.a. “chick lit” genre whereas men nearly always write literary fiction, mystery/thriller and nonfiction. There’s little parity. So I’m all for this #ReadWomen2014 movement.
Here are 25 of my favorite books by women, a mix of classic and modern, if you need some reading suggestions:
1. Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
2. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
3. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
4. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
5. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
6. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
7. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
8. Intuition by Allegra Goldman
9. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
10. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
11. Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
12. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
13. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna
14. The Group by Mary McCarthy
15. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
16. Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
17. The Vagabond by Collette
18. The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton
19. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
20. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
21. Possession by A.S. Byatt
22. Don’t Cry by Mary Gaitskill
23. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
24. The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
25. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Willa Sibert Cather [1873-1947]—writer
–grew up in as part of a wealthy family in northern Virginia
–went to the University of Nebraska
–in 1891, as a freshman at the University of Nebraska, Cather writes an essay about Thomas Carlyle. It is published without her knowledge in the Nebraska State Journal in March.
–Cather becomes literary editor of the Hesperian, student publication of the University of Nebraska. She holds this position from 1892-1893. She’s then managing editor until graduation.
–worked as a reporter in Lincoln, Neb. and then in Pittsburgh
–was an arts critic
–Cather meets and begins a relationship with Isabelle McClung in 1899.
–In 1901 Cather takes a teaching job at a Pittsburgh high school and moves in with Isabelle McClung at the home of McClung’s parents.
–taught high school from 1901-1906.
–At 40, her famous novel O Pioneers was published in 1913.
–also wrote My Antonia , The Song of the Lark  and the Pulitzer-prize winning One of Ours  among many others.
–Cather wrote about independent female protagonists in her book and included themes of frontier development and explored the idea of the small town and what it did to crush individuality.
–In 1929, Cather was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
–On April 24, 1947 — Cather dies from a cerebral hemorrhage in New York City and is buried four days later in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
–One of my favorite classic writers [though I can’t believe I still haven’t read her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, One of Ours.
--While known for her sweeping depictions of life on the Midwestern prairie, Cather on spent her early childhood there.
--Cather grew up in a well-to-do family in the farm country of northern Virginia.
--She went to school in Nebraska and graduated from high school in 1891. She then went to the University of Nebraska. A professor liked her writing so much, one of her stories was sent to a Boston magazine.
--Cather worked as a reporter at a Lincoln newspaper and then in Pittsburgh for a magazine and then a newspaper. She never returned to the Midwest.
--Attention struggling writers and late bloomers! O Pioneers [1913) got published when Cather was 40. She followed that with my all-time favorite Cather novel The Song of the Lark  and then My Antonia . Her WWI book, One of Ours , won the Pulitzer Prize.
–Cather was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1929.
–What I adore about her work, besides the divine physical descriptions of the Midwest, is that Cather writes about strong-willed, independent women.
Source: American Women’s History by Doris Weatherford