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WILLA CATHER WROTE WHAT SHE LIVED Sara Orne Jewett a local colorist from Maine once suggested that Willa Cather write from her own background Cather followed that advice and became famous for her stories of the American frontier especially those about heroic women who struggled to tame the prairies of Nebraska and the Southwest Cathers first novel was published in 1912 and was called Alexanders Bridge In 1913 came O Pioneers which took its title from a poem by Walt Whitman My Antonia published in 1918 is probably her best known work and features the hardy sensitive women who led courageous simple lives of endurance in the harshly beautiful wilderness These immigrants would become the mothers of a new race of Americans and the book spans the few generations that saw the prairie transformed into modern farmland and cities In 1927 Willa Cather wrote what is considered her best work Death Comes for the Archbishop about missionary priests in New Mexico In 1923 she won the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours the story of an American farmer who dies in battle in World War I Like the narrator in My Antonia Willa Cather was born in Virginia the oldest child in an Irish family and moved to Nebraska with her family when she was eleven It was 1883 In the book the boy Jim Burden compares the gentler land of Virginia to the wild beauty of the prairies Like him Willa lived with her grandparents and like Jims grandparents her family emphasized intellect morality and ladylike behavior Like her protagonist Cather grew up among European immigrants and enjoyed the simple pleasures of a rural childhood like giving plays Willa Cather had an interest in medicine and a lifelong love of music and theater One of her books Song of the Lark was about a frontier girl who becomes a great opera singer Cather never married
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