Despite spending only 13 of her 74 years in Nebraska, Willa Cather is still considered one of Nebraska’s most treasured authors. Cather was born on December 7, 1873 in Winchester, VA. When Willa was 9, her family moved to Nebraska, first to a ranch and then to the community of Red Cloud. It was there that her father purchased the local newspaper, the Republican Chief, and installed Willa (age 15) as the editor and business manager.
At the age of 17, Cather moved to Lincoln, eventually to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While enrolled at UN-L, Cather had a reputation as a bit of an eccentric — wearing her hair cut in a man’s fashion, and often wearing men’s clothing. In 1893, Cather began writing a column for the Lincoln Journal newspaper, and in 1894 she took on the duties of the Journal‘s drama critic. Additionally, she was a regular contributor to the UN-L magazines Hesperian and Lasso. After only two years with the Lincoln Journal, Cather took a position as associate editor with the Lincoln Courier, a society, art and literary paper, where she remained until shortly after her 1895 graduation.
Leaving Lincoln, Cather ended up in Pittsburgh,.where she worked for both the Pittsburgh Home Monthly and Pittsburgh Daily Leader until 1905. During this period, Cather made the first of several trips to Europe, and saw the publication of her first collection of stories. In 1906, she began working for McClure’s Magazine in New York City, first as editor then as managing editor. The advice of fellow writer Sarah Orne Jewett convinced Willa to dedicate more of her time to her own writing, and to creating her own literary voice. During the next two decades, many of Willa Cather’s seminal works of American literature saw print — often featuring settings and characters drawn from her Nebraska upbringing.
Although Cather never returned to Nebraska to live, Red Cloud continues to consider her a native daughter, and the strong regional themes of many of her novels continue to identify her as a Nebraska author. Cather died in New York on April 24, 1947. As a testament to the quality and timelessness of her writing, the majority of Cather’s novels have remained in print, continuously, to this day.
Many of Willa Cather’s shorter novels and short stories have been reprinted in a variety of collections — both under Cather’s own name, and in anthologies by a variety of authors. If you search the Lincoln City Libraries catalog for “Cather, Willa”, you will find all of the titles listed below — many in multiple different editions and/or languages — as well as numerous other “titles”, which are often individual short stories from her well-known collections that have subsequently been reprinted as stand-alone volumes.
The Troll Garden *
Song of the Lark
Youth and the Bright Medusa
One of Ours
A Lost Lady
The Professor’s House
My Mortal Enemy
Shadows on the Rock
Sapphira and the Slave Girl
The Old Beauty and Others
Five Stories *
Early Stories of Willa Cather *
Uncle Valentine and Other Stories *
Twenty-Four Stories *
Great Short Works of Willa Cather *
* – indicates a short story collection
1903 – April Twilights [811 C28as]
1936 – Not Under Forty [814 Cat] 1949 – Willa Cather on Writing [814 Cat] 1956 – Willa Cather in Europe [B C279e] 1966 – The Kingdom of Art: Willa Cather’s First Principles and Critical Statements, 1893-1896 [818 C28k] 1970 – The World and the Parish: Willa Cather’s Articles and Reviews, 1893-1902 [818 Cat] 1986 – Willa Cather in Person: Interviews, Speeches and Letters [B C279]
The Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors maintains a collection of Willa Cather’s novels, in a multitude of different editions and languages. Although a non-circulating collection, these materials are available for Cather scholars to study during the Heritage Room’s regular hours. You will also find numerous other items associated with Cather by doing either Subject — or Author — searches in the libraries’ catalog, under “Cather, Willa.”
adapted for the Web March 2006 sdc / last updated September 2016 sdc