Willa Sibert Cather was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I.
"In her writings Cather concentrated on the pioneer traditions of the Nebraska prairie and the deserts of the Southwest, emphasizing the themes of courage, struggle, and respect for the land. She received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel One of Ours (1922)."
Cather was well-respected and broadly read by her contemporaries. She has grown in stature since her death to become a world-renowned American writer.
Cather was as fiercely protective of her novels as she was of her private life. She suppressed much of her early writing and dismissed serial publication of her later work. In her will was a stipulation against publication of her private papers.
Her final novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) is set in Frederick County and Winchester, just before and after the Civil War. It describes locales easily found by contemporary visitors.
Cather's had extensive experience as an editor. Word changes demonstrate her practices in revising and other changes demonstrate that she gave extraordinarily close scrutiny to such matters as capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing, hyphenation, and spacing.
Despite being a critic herself, Cather had little use for critics. She preferred her readers to not view her work through a critic's lens.
Cather wrote in contrasts. She wrote not only of the resourcefulness, determination, and bravery of the first group of pioneers who tried to survive on their hope in the American dream, but also of the harshness, coldness and brutality of pioneer life in the prairie.
When Willa was 13 years old, she cut her hair short and began wearing boys clothes. She began referring to herself as 'William.'
At the age of nine, Cather and her family relocated to Nebraska, where she learned much about the prairie life. These experiences were later documented in her short stories and novels.
Willa Cather said about Nebraska that country was the happiness and the curse of her life. She admired the pioneers who struggled to cope with the wilderness and to make a better life for themselves and their families.