Talk:Willa Cather

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Death Comes for the Archbishop not a Great Plains novel[edit]

Death comes for the Archbishop is set in the Southwest, not on the Great Plains (as 1st paragraph states)

Santa Fe New Mexico is right at the edge of the Great Plains.Colin McLarty (talk) 01:26, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Photograph of Cather vandalized?[edit]

The photograph of Cather has been replaced with a picture of a bug. I'm unaware of how to revert it back to its original photo, so I am removing it from the article for the time being. Blacksun1942 05:40, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Cather's Gender[edit]

I'm disappointed there's no information in this article about Cather's assuming a man's identity. I want to know more about that.

Yeah im unsure about her sighing her name as William Cather. Why would she do that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Cather's works stand on their own merit, and therefore so should she as a writer, regardless of sexual orientation. However, there are of course corresponding undertones in her works that should be addressed.

Bold textSEXuality[edit]

Okay, people -- this isn't really so hard. Most modern Cather scholarship assumes the possibility if not the likelihood that she was gay, so this article needs to deal with this a little bit better. There are facts about Cather's life, and then there are interpretations of the facts, and it's possible to present them respectfully. I think a lot can be accomplished by a simple rewrite and I'm going to try. Cbc writer 01:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

All righty, I did my best as I saw fit; I'm new here but it really broke my heart to see this entry like it was. A more thorough consideration of who thinks Cather was a lesbian and who doesn't think so would, in my view, be better suited to a new section about critical interpretation of Cather's work, rather than battling it out in the biography section. Frankly I only know of one significant Cather scholar who's really defensive about people considering Cather gay, John J. Murphy at BYU; everyone else seems pretty comfortable with the assumption that she probably or almost certainly was homosexual. But I gather people have widely varying standards about what goes into this article. Cbc writer 03:41, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

If Cather's sexuality isn't important enough to be mentioned in the text, she shouldn't be listed in the "Lesbian writers" category - or, if the category is that important, then her sexual orientation should at least be mentioned in the text. | Klaw Talk 00:35, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I was going to get rid of it, but it looks like there are quite a few sites out their pushing the theory. I can't judge ther reliability, so I'll just leave it be.--Rayc 01:52, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Sorry for jumping the gun and making an edit under discussion, i put it back. but i'm in agreement with the above people: this is a theory, and it highly contested. the source this article quotes from is by no way definitive, I could make a web site just like on some freesite web hosting place, declare her non-lesbian, and then quote it as if it was a source so as to meet wikipedia standards. there is no mention of her deep Roman Catholic sympathies, or her devotion to Christianity, which is a strong influence according to secondary literature. i think either we should erase the mention of her being a lesbian, or at least give a better balanced and nuanced account, sighting sources that do not agree that she was a lesbian. Thelastshallbefirst 22:49, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

The fact that she was a lesbian may be important because when Cather writes Paul's Case, she gives Paul a very feminine character. It is also important to note that when she creates a female character, the character usually has a very doinant role in the story and has a very strong personality.

  "With remarkable skill, she may tell a story from a man's point of  
  view, but her favorite characters are likely to be women of strong 
  will who triumph over obstacles." (Literature, an Introduction to
  Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Ninth Edition. Page 513. Pearson
  Longman, New York, 2005.) 

Rvo91 01:07, 5 December 2006 (UTC)


Why isn't her family mentioned? Some of us have to do reserch here!

SO DO IT!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:59, 29 March 2011 (UTC)


I've gone through this and revised it based on the Library of Congress and Willa Cather Archive, eliminating modern omnibus editions and single stories (e.g. "Paul's Case"). I haven't dealt with the various periodical articles and the modern collections thereof. Mangoe 20:12, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Trivia sections are discouraged[edit]

Wikipedia suggests that lists of Trivia be avoided. I've moved most elements into appropriate sections of the article. --Parkwells (talk) 18:01, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Pittsburgh writer?[edit]

It hardly seems appropriate to include Cather in Pittsburgh writers; she didn't live there long, and the city did not seem to influence her writing.--Parkwells (talk) 20:39, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but "Pittsburgh writers" seems like a very accurate label. She in fact lived in Pittsburgh for many years, and wrote one of her most famous novels, "O Pioneers!," there. And her most well-known short story, "Paul's Case," revolves around the life of a young Pittsburgh high schooler and was written not long after Cather herself was a teacher in a Pittsburgh high school. So while Pittsburgh may not define her as a writer, it is definitively a significant aspect of her life and scholarship.Gaep13(talk) 17:54, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

FRANCE and French literature were apparently a massive influence on Cather's writing (I've just read some of Stephanie Durrans's book on Cather and France). However, I'm not a Cather expert so I won't add anything - just wonder if any of you experts agree. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:22, 13 January 2013 (UTC)


Does anybody have any leads on a better public use photograph of Cather? I realize she wasn't exactly a girly-girl, but she looks like the Wicked Witch of the West in the one we have here. — e. ripley\talk 17:47, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Writing Career Section[edit]

This is not well written.

The first paragraph jumps from 1908 to 1942, then goes back to 1923 in the second paragraph. It appears that 1942 is a typo, especially given that most of her work predates 1942.

The section doesn't mention any of her classic works, such as My Antonia.

The third paragraph has no dates or citations.

The Fourth paragraph is gibberish. It should be deleted.

This is one of the most disappointing bios in wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Birthplace contradiction[edit]

In the infobox, it states she was born "near Winchester, Virginia, United States", but in the Biography section, it states she was born "on a small farm in the Back Creek valley near Stephen, Minnesota." Which is it? There are no sources for either one. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 01:38, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Let me see what I can find. — e. ripley\talk 01:28, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
Here is a link to a description of the home she was born in, which apparently is up for sale [1]. I'll fix the text. GOod catch. — e. ripley\talk 01:30, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
We can thank someone who wrote in to OTRS. I just posted their concern here. :) ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 01:58, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Should probably remove this article from LGBT categories[edit]

As the article states, and as I've heard from Cather scholars, it's just not possible to know if any of her relationships with women were sexual. (talk) 08:14, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Grew up in Nebraska?[edit]

That's what the lead paragraph says... Yet, the bio portion goes from "born in Virginia in 1873" directly to "moved to New York in 1906". So, the reader is left to assume... she apparently spent a day or two in Nebraska at some point? Or, was it a month? A couple years?

Since the subject of most of her writings was pioneer life in Nebraska, could someone add some data as to when she moved to, and moved away from, the state to which she is most closely associated?

Thank you. (talk) 21:50, 29 June 2010 (UTC) Confused

Did She Write Any Books?[edit]

There is a real problem with this article, as with so many Wikipedia articles about writers, and that is that there is no discussion of their writing and why it is good or important.

I realize that this reflects current education in literature, that post-structuralist professors represent writers as neurotic poltroons, but surely at Wikipedia we are entitled to contributions by people who have read the author extensively and LIKE them and what they have to say.

I added an appreciation from William Shirer to the article on Sinclair Lewis, some specifics on Jack London's work to his article, and some specifics on the Sherlock Holmes character to the article on, "The Bruce-Partington Plans," but I could use some help. I've only read three or four of Cather's novels and so the contributions here should come from someone else.

Kcranson (talk) 06:17, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, this article needs work. However, when adding material, please keep in mind that such critical coverage requires citations from reliable sources. Always good to keep that in mind, whoever decides to jump in and revamp literary bios. :) María (habla conmigo) 12:33, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

There really needs to be a category for this kind of thing...[edit]

Willa Cather is listed under Category:Lesbian writers. However, there is not enough evidence to state that she is a lesbian. The article itself addresses it, but the categorization does not. Also, she may have been queer but not lesbian. She might have been transgendered, a cross-dresser, or gender-queer. Keep in mind she did cut off all her hair at one point and go by the name William. Of course, this might have been just an element of questioning her sexuality. There should be some kind of category that encompasses famous people from eras where people were not openly gay (lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer) who are now considered to be gay (lesbian, bisexual, etc.). There isn't cold hard information about the sexuality of many of these people, but there is enough evidence to conclude they probably were something other than straight. --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 03:29, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

That's a good point. Unfortunately most categories are black and white, where people rarely are! — e. ripley\talk 13:04, 3 September 2010 (UTC)
Thank you. Finally someone who agrees with me. I agree; it would be hard to create a category like that though... The wording would have to be inclusive but concise. --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 02:15, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
I know this is an old conversation, but I just wanted to add that based on the evidence that's actually available to us, we should indeed not categorize her as lesbian. It's quite clear that she was not a conventionally heterosexual woman, but we simply don't have enough evidence to know whether she would be most properly described as lesbian, as bisexual, as a person who if she had access to modern medical options that weren't available in her own time would instead be pursuing sexual reassignment surgery and identifying as a transman, or as entirely asexual. However, a category for historical people of debated or uncertain sexual orientation/identity would not be permissible under current Wikipedia rules — in fact, such a category once existed but was rightly deleted as a WP:CATGRS violation. Especially when it comes to sensitive biographical details such as sexual identity, we need to stick to known facts and avoid categorizing speculatively. It's entirely appropriate and acceptable for the article to discuss the ambiguity of the matter in body text — but unfortunate though it may be, we simply don't have enough of an answer to that question to justify the addition of any LGBT-related categories. Bearcat (talk) 17:05, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

Picture of the Pittsburgh house?[edit]

I live just down the street from her old house. Would it be valuable to the article at all if I included a picture of it?Zeebiedeebie (talk) 20:59, 30 May 2011 (UTC)


I have heard her name pronounced with both long and short vowels. So which is correct?
Her surname rhymes with "bather" or "catheter"?
Her Christian name is like "William" or "wily"? Varlaam (talk) 04:40, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

Willa Cather and France[edit]

After reading Stephanie Durrans's book on Cather and France I'm convinced that the fact that she was massively influenced by French authors should be written about. I'm not a Cather expert and don't want to disturb the article but one of you experts out there could do it. There is very little about her style, influences etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:19, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

The Dubious Classification of "Prairie Trilogy"[edit]

I have made the following edit to the bibliography for the following reasons. The term "prairie trilogy" has been deleted from the bibliographic entries for Song of the Lark, O, Pioneers!, and My Antonia. The reason for this is because scholars such as Andrew Jewell (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, editor of the online Willa Cather Archive), Guy Reynolds (UNL, general editor of the Cather Scholarly Editions), Kari Ronning (textual editor of the Cather Scholarly Editions), and Robert Thacker (St. Lawrence University), among others, say that this classification does not exist. Jewell asserts that this term is used by publishers who reprint these texts (in the public domain) together as a marketing ploy. Scholars who study Cather critically do not use this term. Cather also shunned this term, and never intended the books to be read as a trilogy and did not publish them as subsequent to each other. Please stop reverting this edit as the term "prairie trilogy" is inaccurate and misleading. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Englishisthenewmath (talkcontribs) 21:20, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Book Title[edit]

I've long been curious about the accent on the initial "A" in the title of Willa Cather's book My Ántonia. That's an unusual place for an accent, especially on that name. Does anyone know why Cather put that accent there? Also, how is it supposed to be pronounced? With the accent (emphasis) on the "A", it would be difficult to pronounce. CorinneSD (talk) 23:19, 6 July 2014 (UTC)