The Meet the Past Series Looks at the Life of Willa Cather, Novelist of the Midwestern Plains

For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2012
Contact: Robert Butler
The Meet the Past Series Looks at the Life of Willa Cather, Novelist of the Midwestern Plains

Willa Cather (1873-1947) grew up in small-town Nebraska and though she left the Cornhusker State after college, Nebraska never left her.

Indeed, the people and landscapes she encountered stayed with her and fueled her work. In novels like O Pioneers!, My Antonia, The Song of the Lark and the Pulitzer Prize-winning One of Ours, she celebrated frontier life on the Great Plains.

Cather - portrayed by actress Jan Chapman - returns to her Midwestern roots for a conversation as part of the Library's popular Meet the Past series on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Conducting the interview is Library Director Crosby Kemper III. The program will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.

Though born in Virginia, Cather's formative years were spent on the prairie in Red Cloud, Nebraska. She was inspired by the immigrants and Native Americans she encountered, as well as the dramatic weather.

Though she originally planned on a medical career, her early success as a writer encouraged her to major in English. After stints as newspaper editor and high school teacher in Pennsylvania she moved to New York City in 1906 to work on McClure's Magazine. By 1912 she was an established novelist whose books were both critical and popular successes.

H.L. Mencken praised her for writing about ordinary people in plainspoken language, while Sinclair Lewis said that Cather made "the outside world know Nebraska as no one else has done."

Cather's personal life has sparked controversy. As a university student she wore masculine clothing. She never married and throughout her life her closest friendships were with women. Cather lived the last 39 years of her life with the editor Edith Lewis.

Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the program. RSVP onlineor call 816.701.3407.

Major funding for this season of Meet the Past has been provided by the Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, Ken and Cindy McClain, and the J. B. Reynolds Foundation.

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