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Willa Cather (1873–1947)

Author of My Ántonia

158+ Works 40,435 Members 940 Reviews 204 Favorited
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About the Author

Willa Siebert Cather was born in 1873 in the home of her maternal grandmother in western Virginia. Although she had been named Willela, her family always called her "Willa." Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1895, Cather moved to Pittsburgh where she worked as a journalist and show more teacher while beginning her writing career. In 1906, Cather moved to New York to become a leading magazine editor at McClure's Magazine before turning to writing full-time. She continued her education, receiving her doctorate of letters from the University of Nebraska in 1917, and honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of California, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton. Cather wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and novels, winning awards including the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours, about a Nebraska farm boy during World War I. She also wrote The Professor's House, My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and Lucy Gayheart. Some of Cather's novels were made into movies, the most well-known being A Lost Lady, starring Barbara Stanwyck. In 1961, Willa Cather was the first woman ever voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in Oklahoma in 1974, and the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca, New York in 1988. Cather died on April 24, 1947, of a cerebral hemorrhage, in her Madison Avenue, New York home, where she had lived for many years. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)


Works by Willa Cather

My Ántonia (1918) 13,581 copies
O Pioneers! (1913) 6,335 copies
Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) 5,919 copies
The Song of the Lark (1915) 1,984 copies
The Professor's House (1925) 1,930 copies
A Lost Lady (1923) 1,620 copies
One of Ours (1922) 1,223 copies
Shadows on the Rock (1931) 867 copies
Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) 677 copies
My Mortal Enemy (1926) 598 copies
Lucy Gayheart (1935) 563 copies
Alexander's Bridge (1912) 459 copies
Collected Stories (1992) 301 copies
The Troll Garden (1905) 256 copies
Obscure Destinies (1932) 209 copies
Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920) 175 copies
Five Stories (1956) 163 copies
The Old Beauty and Others (1948) 120 copies
Not Under Forty (1936) 94 copies
Paul's Case {story} (1986) 61 copies
Willa Cather: 24 Stories (1988) 55 copies
Classic Westerns (Leather-bound Classics) (2017) — Contributor — 51 copies
My Ántonia / O Pioneers! (1995) 43 copies
Neighbor Rosicky (1986) 26 copies
The Willa Cather Reader (1997) 24 copies
O Pioneers! [1992 TV movie] (1992) — Author — 16 copies
American Pioneer Writers (1991) 15 copies
The Burglar's Christmas (1896) 15 copies
Coming, Aphrodite! (2008) 9 copies
Los libros de cuentos (2006) 8 copies
The Sculptor's Funeral (2005) 7 copies
Vintage Cather (2004) 7 copies
A Gold Slipper (2010) 5 copies
The Bohemian Girl (2008) 4 copies
A Death in the Desert (2005) 4 copies
The Diamond Mine (2010) 4 copies
Scandal (2010) 3 copies
Old Mrs. Harris 3 copies
The Enchanted Bluff (2013) 3 copies
The Old Beauty (1948) 3 copies
Cather studies. Volume 2 (1993) 2 copies
Willa Cather: 47 Works (2014) 2 copies
Two Friends 1 copy
A Lost lady 1 copy
O pioniers! (2019) 1 copy
Miss Jewett 1 copy
Consequences 1 copy
My Ántonia: A Play (2013) 1 copy
Early Short Stories (2004) 1 copy
Flavia and Her Artists (2013) 1 copy
[No title] 1 copy

Associated Works

The Best American Short Stories of the Century (2000) — Contributor — 1,561 copies
The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories (1896) — Preface, some editions — 1,053 copies
The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) — Preface, some editions — 932 copies
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (1992) — Contributor — 747 copies
Great American Short Stories: From Hawthorne to Hemingway (2004) — Contributor — 590 copies
The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century (2000) — Contributor — 455 copies
Great Short Stories by American Women (1996) — Contributor — 409 copies
Women & Fiction: Short Stories By and About Women (1975) — Contributor — 366 copies
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (1998) — Contributor — 277 copies
The Treasury of American Short Stories (1981) — Contributor — 269 copies
Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers (1993) — Contributor — 192 copies
The Penguin Book of American Short Stories (1969) — Contributor — 188 copies
This Is My Best (1942) — Contributor — 187 copies
Sixteen Short Novels (1985) — Contributor — 177 copies
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (2019) — Contributor — 166 copies
New York Stories (Everyman's Pocket Classics) (2011) — Contributor, some editions — 151 copies
The Norton Book of Personal Essays (1997) — Contributor — 142 copies
An Anthology of Famous American Stories (1953) — Contributor — 137 copies
The Virago Book of Victorian Ghost Stories (1988) — Contributor — 134 copies
Haunted America: Star-Spangled Supernatural Stories (1990) — Contributor — 112 copies
American Short Stories (1976) — Contributor, some editions — 95 copies
American Fantastic Tales: Boxed Set (2009) — Contributor — 92 copies
More Stories to Remember, Volume I (1958) — Contributor — 84 copies
Bedside Book of Famous American Stories (1936) — Contributor — 71 copies
200 Years of Great American Short Stories (1975) — Contributor — 68 copies
The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology (1990) — Contributor — 64 copies
More Stories to Remember, Volumes I & II (1958) — Contributor — 57 copies
The Vintage Book of American Women Writers (2011) — Contributor — 56 copies
Infinite Riches (1993) — Contributor — 54 copies
The Faber Book of Gardens (2007) — Contributor — 45 copies
The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (1959) — Editor, some editions — 43 copies
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Contributor — 39 copies
Fifty Best American Short Stories 1915-1965 (1965) — Contributor — 36 copies
Medusa's Daughters (2020) — Contributor — 34 copies
The Secret Self: A Century of Short Stories by Women (1995) — Contributor — 34 copies
Bodies of the Dead and Other Great American Ghost Stories (1995) — Contributor — 31 copies
50 Best American Short Stories 1915-1939 (1939) — Contributor — 28 copies
Pulitzer Prize Reader (1961) — Contributor — 27 copies
American short stories, 1820 to the present (1952) — Contributor — 26 copies
Studies in Fiction (1965) — Contributor — 22 copies
Roundup: A Nebraska Reader (1957) — Contributor — 21 copies
Love Stories (1975) — Contributor — 18 copies
Modern American Short Stories (1945) — Contributor — 15 copies
Family: Stories from the Interior (1987) — Contributor — 15 copies
Classic Short Stories by Trailblazing Women (2023) — Contributor — 14 copies
She Won the West (1985) — Contributor — 11 copies
Great Western short stories (1777) — Contributor — 9 copies
More Stories to Remember, Volume III (1958) — Contributor — 8 copies
Famous Stories (1966) — Contributor — 8 copies
Dangerous Ladies (1992) — Contributor — 8 copies
Teen-Age Treasury for Girls (1958) — Contributor — 5 copies
Classic Women's Literature (2001) — Contributor — 5 copies
Great Classic Ghost Stories (2011) — Contributor — 5 copies
Child's Ploy (1984) — Contributor — 4 copies
Eighteen Stories (1965) 4 copies
Alfred A. Knopf - quarter century 1915-1940 (1940) — Contributor — 3 copies
American Short Stories (1978) — Contributor — 3 copies
Enjoying Stories (1987) — Contributor — 2 copies
A Modern Galaxy: Short Stories — Contributor — 2 copies
The Song of the Lark [2001 TV movie] — Original book — 1 copy
Juvenile Delinquency in Literature (1980) — Contributor — 1 copy
Whole Pieces (1990) — Contributor — 1 copy
Trumps: A Collection of Short Stories — Contributor — 1 copy
O Pioneers! / The Great Gatsby / The Good Earth (1989) — Contributor — 1 copy


19th century (286) 20th century (694) America (249) American (860) American fiction (251) American literature (1,728) American West (141) anthology (1,171) Cather (202) classic (1,107) classic literature (144) classics (1,146) ebook (216) essays (200) fiction (7,083) historical fiction (693) history (162) horror (145) immigrants (281) Kindle (259) Library of America (273) literature (1,351) Midwest (161) Nebraska (760) New Mexico (262) non-fiction (172) novel (1,044) own (285) pioneers (330) poetry (216) read (467) religion (132) short stories (1,739) to-read (1,885) unread (342) USA (246) Virago (176) Virago Modern Classics (141) Willa Cather (292) women (433)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Cather, Wilella
Date of death
Burial location
Old Burying Yard, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, USA
Back Creek Valley, Virginia, USA
Place of death
New York, New York, USA
Cause of death
cerebral hemorrhage
Places of residence
Winchester, Virginia, USA
Willow Shade, Virginia, USA
Back Creek Valley, Virginia, USA
Red Cloud, Nebraska, USA
Catherton, Nebraska, USA
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA (show all 9)
New York, New York, USA
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada
University of Nebraska (1895)
short-story writer
drama critic
editor (show all 8)
National Institute of Arts and Letters
Pittsburgh Daily Leader
Allegheny High School, Pittsburgh
McClure's Magazine (managing editor)
Bread Loaf School of English
Awards and honors
Gold Medal, National Institute of Arts and Letters (1944)
Nebraska Hall of Fame (1962)
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1943)
Prix Fémina Américain (1933)
New York Writers Hall of Fame (2011)
Short biography
Wilella "Willa" Cather was born on her maternal grandmother's farm in Back Creek Valley, near Winchester, Virginia. In 1883, when she was nine years old, the family moved to the Nebraska frontier, eventually settling in Red Cloud. She graduated in 1895 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. A year later, she moved to Pittsburgh to work as a magazine editor and theater critic. From 1901 to 1906, she taught high school English. During this time, she published April Twilights (1903), a book of poems, and The Troll Garden (1905), a collection of short stories. At age 33, she moved to New York City.



December 2023: Willa Cather in Monthly Author Reads (February 7)
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather 1983 in George Macy devotees (February 2023)
September 2021 Group Read - O! Pioneers by Willa Cather in Geeks who love the Classics (October 2021)
May Read: Willa Cather in Virago Modern Classics (August 2017)
Willa Cather reading week December 7th - 14th in Virago Modern Classics (December 2014)
Willa Cather- American Author Challenge in 75 Books Challenge for 2014 (November 2014)
September 2014: Willa Cather in Monthly Author Reads (November 2014)
drneutron's 2014 Reading - Fourth Reel in 75 Books Challenge for 2014 (July 2014)
labwriter reads Death Comes for the Archbishop in 75 Books Challenge for 2011 (December 2011)


This deceptively simple tale contains depths of heart, empathy, and grace. The story is told by Jim Burden, a young boy being raised by his grandmother and grandfather on a remote Nebraska farm in the 1880s, but he shares protagonist duties with Antonia (pronounced an-toe-nee-ah), the daughter of an immigrant family struggling, like so many others immigrant at that time, to realize the American Dream.

Jim and Antonia are thrown together by proximity, but end up forging a friendship that is sweetly innocent and that endures over decades. The key is the depth of respect they have for each other, Antonia admiring Jim for his intelligence and character, Jim admiring Antonia for her transparent generosity and goodness.

Along the way Cather introduces us to the denizens of Black Hawk, a rural township populated by a melting pot of Americans and immigrants, primarily Scandinavians, Bohemians (modern day Czechia), and Russians. Make no mistake, the lives they live can be harsh: grueling (seemingly ceaseless) physical labor, bitter weather, poverty, homesickness, disappointment, loss. Yet somehow Cather's characters also find time to laugh, sing, dance, and acknowledge the profound beauty of the natural world that surrounds them.

I loved everything about this novel. I loved the authenticity of the characters. I loved the vignettes of small town rural life - the dress shops and dance tents, clotheslines and cowhands, sod houses and sleighs. I love Cather's bold choice to make her tale character- rather than plot-driven. Her respect and empathy for the the immigrants she portrays. Her effortless storytelling and gorgeous portrayals of the beauty of midwestern prairies. Most of all, I loved witnessing the beautiful relationship between Jim and Antonia, and how their friendship helps to forge their characters.

Part coming-of-age tale, part homage to the American Dream (hard work = prosperity), part celebration of the beauty of the American Midwest, part panegyric to the power of human connection, this truly is an American classic.
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Dorritt | 284 other reviews | Apr 13, 2024 |
An odd choice of title, on the face of it, as the central character does not become an archbishop until well into the closing pages of the novel, and his death is one of the gentlest and least dramatic in the whole of modern fiction.

This is essentially a historical novel about the lives of two French missionary priests charged with setting up a new diocese after the US annexation of New Mexico in 1848, where Father Vaillant is the tough lower-class bruiser with the key human skills and sympathies for dealing with people from outside civilised European culture, while his officer-class friend and colleague Father Latour deals with the local gentry and keeps going off on long journeys to attend management conferences.

Both priests are presented as pious, idealistic, self-sacrificing and generally lacking in any interesting human vices (except maybe a taste for French cooking), in a way that might otherwise be rather tedious and even nauseating, but seems to be forgivable — and even appropriate — here, in the context of the epic framework Cather sets up, where the New Mexico scenery and the interplay of Spanish-Mexican and Native American cultures in it is always more foreground than background. Latour and Vaillant spend a lot of the book being tiny dots of black in a widescreen panorama of desert, cactuses and mesas. There isn’t really a direct plot, we learn about Latour and Vaillant and the transitional society of the new Territory through a series of Don-Camilloesque vignettes, and Cather takes the opportunity to remind us along the way of some of the values of Native American culture — particularly when it comes to living in harmony with nature — and the ways that they have often been mistreated by the US authorities (but not, apparently, by the Roman Catholic Church…).

Very odd, and not really my sort of book, but I enjoyed Cather’s writing all the same, and I liked the description of the cosy, lifelong friendship of the two priests, even if it did rely on a few clichés.
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thorold | 146 other reviews | Apr 10, 2024 |
The Song of the Lark - Cather
Audio Performance by Barbara Caruso - (3 stars)
4 stars

This book is part of Cather’s Great Plains Trilogy. It begins with Thea Kronberg’s childhood in a small Colorado town and follows her life as she leaves her small town roots behind her to pursue a successful singing career. The book has Cather’s wonderful descriptions of the landscape and the community, but mostly it is an intense character study.

“Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.”

I think that quote may be at the root of my mixed feelings about this book. Most of the time I liked Thea. I admired her dedication and her persistence as she continued to grow as an artist. She works hard and sacrifices her own happiness to achieve a level of perfection with no guarantee that she will ever succeed. Her own high standards of perfection leave her frustrated and dissatisfied much of the time.

At other times I disliked her inherent narcissism. This book is said to be Cather’s most autobiographical, so it may be the author’s narcissism that makes me uncomfortable. She seems to say, in more ways than one throughout the story, that anyone who isn’t a great artist cannot possibly understand. Human population is divided between the great artists and ‘the stupid’.

My sympathy lies with the characters who loved and cared for Thea Kronberg; her mother, Dr. Archie, and her lover, Fred Ottenburg. Thea isn’t without feeling for the people who care for her, but she will always put her artistic needs before anything or anyone else.
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msjudy | 53 other reviews | Mar 29, 2024 |
I loved much of this book, but was not infatuated with the latter stages, after Thea (the main character) achieves the success she'd so long sought. Thea can be heartlessly self-serving in pursuit of her dream, and one almost expects Cather to emphasize the tragic nature of the trade-offs she had to make, but Cather never really goes there. Yet there is something tragic about Thea, about Archie, and about the losses that each must endure. Meanwhile, Fred (Thea's suitor) is the weakest and most unreal character in the book. When the novel's brief epilogue takes us back to Moonstone, Colorado, the setting of the first half of the book, the reader feels refreshed and alive again, after the dreary scenes in New York parlors and opera houses.… (more)
rspenc56 | 53 other reviews | Mar 28, 2024 |


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