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Kate Chopin Katherine OFlaherty Chopin was born February 8 1850 in St Louis MO The daughter of an Irish father and a French Creole mother the OFlahertys were members of the creole social elite and were fairly well off When Kate was very young her father Thomas died in a work-related accident He left behind a family of four generations of women all living in the same house Kate was very close to her great-grandmother Madame Charleville who first introduced her to the world of storytelling Madame Charleville spoke only french to Kate and told her elaborate stories At the age of 11 Madame Charleville died and her half-brother George was killed while fighting in the Civil War for the Confederate side Upset over this Kate tore down a Union flag tied to her front porch by a Yankee soldier earning her a reputation as the Littlest Rebel and becoming a local legend Kate studied both French and English literature in school and became an accomplished pianist She attended many social events and became popular in high society She was also very interested in womens suffrage but never became active politically At age 19 she married Oscar Chopin a 25-year-old French-Creole businessman Oscar tolerated Kates unconventional ways even though relatives warned him not to He treated Kate as an equal and did not mind that she smoked drank and behaved as her own person After giving birth to six children Kate became a widow in 1883 when her husband died of swamp fever Oscar was a successful businessman so Kate didnt worry about feeding her kids she managed her husbands business for a year then moved back to St Louis Her mother died the following year Kate began to study science abandoned her Catholicism started to write and publish Initially she wrote short stories published in magazines Her stories often deal with marriage and present a
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