More from and about
Willa Cather
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

The end is nothing; the road is all.

   

The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. . . .I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.  At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

      
ďAnd now the old story has begun to write itself over there," said Carl softly. "Isnít it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years."
  
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.
  
  
People travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things.
   

We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him. Our landlady and the delicatessen man are our mourners, and we leave nothing behind us but a frock-coat and a fiddle, or an easel, or a typewriter, or whatever took we got our living by. All we have ever managed to do is to pay our rent, that exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things. We have no house, no place, no people of our own. We live in the streets, in the parks, in the theaters. We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.

     

Only solitary people know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family;
but to a solitary and an exile one's friends are everything.

   

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The more observing ones may have seen, but discerning people are usually
discreet and often kind, for we usually bleed a little before we begin to discern.

   

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.

   

The old man smiled. "I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived."

   
    
Willa Sibert Cather, Nebraska's most noted novelist, was born in 1873 in Virginia.  At the age of ten, she moved with her family to Webster County, Nebraska, and lived on a farm there for two years before moving into the town of Red Cloud.  Many of Cather's acquaintances and Red Cloud area scenes can be recognized in her writings.  Cather graduated from the University of Nebraska in l895.  While attending the university, she was a drama critic for the Lincoln Journal.

She worked for Home Monthly and the Daily Leader in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later taught English and Latin at Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  She moved to New York and became the leading magazine editor of her day while serving as managing editor of McClure's Magazine from 1906 to 1912.  Cather continued her education and received an doctorate of letters at the University of Nebraska in 1917.  She also received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of California, and from Columbia, Yale, and Princeton.

Cather wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and novels, winning many awards including the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours, about a Nebraska farm boy who went off to World War I.  Her novel, A Lost Lady, was made into a silent movie in 1925.  It premiered in Red Cloud, Nebraska and starred Irene Rich.  Another movie of A Lost Lady was made in 1934, starring Barbara Stanwyck.  Other well-known Cather novels include My Antonia, O Pioneers, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and The Professor's House.

Cather died April 24, 1947 in New York.  In 1961 Cather was the first woman voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.  She was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1974 and into the National Women's Hall of Fame at Seneca, New York in 1988.

The Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation at Red Cloud, Nebraska preserved her childhood home and other buildings connected with her writings.  In 1978 these properties were given to the State of Nebraska to be administered as the Willa Cather Historical Center by the Nebraska State Historical Society.  The Nature Conservancy purchased 210 acres of native grassland south of Red Cloud in 1974, and the following year it was dedicated as the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.

  

  

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