Poet, novelist, and journalist Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947) was born on this day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Winchester, Virginia, the eldest child of Irish immigrants.
"That is happiness: to be dissolved into something complete and great," she said.
Cather was raised on a farm in Webster County, Nebraska and described the vibrant countryside as the "happiness and the curse" of her life. Entering the University of Nebraska to become a doctor, Cather turned to literature instead.
"The end is nothing; the road is all," she said and believed in striving for excellence always. She published her first short story in 1892 and became a teacher of high school English and Latin.
"Nothing really matters but living." she said. "Accomplishments are the ornaments of life, they come second."
Cather's rich writing, in O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Antonia (1918), was a passionate celebration of the pioneer spirit and deep love of the land. The stories, which featured strong, spirited female characters, are considered true American classics.
"Where there is great love there are always miracles," she believed and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for One of Ours, the masterful story of an American named Claude Wheeler's journey to the front of World War I. In the novel, she wrote, "The dead might as well speak to the living as the old to the young."
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Open up to see and hear the miracles all around you.