See Article History Alternative Title: Harper Lee is the daughter of Amasa Coleman Lee, a lawyer who was by all accounts apparently rather like the hero-father of her novel in his sound citizenship and warmheartedness. The plot of To Kill a Mockingbird is based in part on his unsuccessful youthful defense of two African American men convicted of murder.
Mencken In the mids, not long after I had moved from New York City to Lemmon, South Dakota, I attended a 90th birthday party for a woman who had been one of the original homesteaders in the area, having immigrated from Sweden with her parents in The Lutheran church basement was decorated with crepe-paper streamers, and one table held family photographs — color snapshots of Writer cather great-grandchildren, wedding photographs from the s, daguerreotypes of stern-faced ancestors in the Old Writer cather.
Some died so young. Sixteen, maybe … And she has got such a grip upon her materials. The prevailing literary style was for overrefined, predictable, plot-driven novels with characters who held fast to European pretensions and standards of gentility. Along with writers such as Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather was seen by some contemporary critics as an answered prayer.
While Europe figures in MY ANTONIA as a lost Eden, or a repository of terrible Writer cather that haunts the immigrants in their new land, the novel is solidly grounded in America, its language the uncluttered idiom of the farmers and townspeople of Webster County, Nebraska.
She was the first of seven children.
Her family settled on a farm near Red Cloud, Nebraska, which had been founded inand by the time Willa Cather arrived, it had a population of about 1, a school, and a small opera house.
The near-treeless countryside could not have been less like Virginia, and the drastic change took a toll on the young Willa Cather.
The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not where. As he is settling in with his grandparents, he notes with wonder that theirs is the only wooden house for miles around, and that their neighbors live in houses made of sod.
His sense of being obliterated by the landscape remains strong: And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running. At the age of 11 Cather obtained employment delivering mail to the farms around Red Cloud, which gave her unparalleled access to the talk and the lives of her immigrant neighbors.
The knowledge she gained about them, however, set her apart from the other English-speaking settlers. A cultured man, a violinist, he cannot bear the weight of the hardships he encounters in Nebraska — living with his family in a crude dugout and taking turns wearing the one overcoat they own.
Shimerda was a common type among Plains homesteaders. My own great-grandfather Heyward, a proper Englishman, once refused to evacuate a South Dakota parsonage that was on fire until he was fully dressed.
Why read it NOW? What possible relevance can it have for life in urban, postmodern America? Many people now alive, my own family included, share the story of the English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants who came to the Great Plains by way of New England or Virginia in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
I suspect that Willa Cather would be fascinated by contemporary novels about more recent immigrants by the Asian-American and Hispanic writers who are currently enriching American literature.
No doubt some of these writers have learned much from Cather about what it means, as a novelist, to have fidelity to a time and a place. MY ANTONIA concerns, as do many of these recent books, coming of age in a new place and culture; it also explores childhood affections, dreams once held dear, in the light of an adult awareness of displacement.
While Cather witnessed the drastic changes that were occurring on the Plains in the transition from the 19th to the 20th century, from the first to the second and third generations of immigrants, a writer now living on the Plains would note another kind of change: Its population surged to nearly 2, in the s, and is down to some 1, people today.
They want to buy everything ready-made: The cities of America contain a Great Plains diaspora, full of people who, like Jim Burden, left the small towns and farms of their youth for an easier life, who felt that they had to leave in order to make their way in the world. Like him, they are haunted by the past and by the painful ambiguities of their relationships with the friends and relatives who remained on the land.
A lawyer in Fargo, North Dakota, the first in his family to graduate from college, told me recently that his family back in western North Dakota was enormously proud of his success, and would never forgive him for leaving.
Visiting her after an absence of 20 years, after tragedies and disappointments have come to them both, Jim Burden finds Antonia at the center of a thriving family, enormously proud of the fruit orchards she has brought out of nothing.
The vulnerability of young women, especially poor country girls, to sexual betrayal, to scandal and censure in lateth-century society, informs much of the book. Cather also makes a sophisticated commentary on the distinctions that began to emerge between country people and town people in her youth.
When she was 12 years old, her family moved from their unsuccessful farm to Red Cloud, where her father set up a loan and mortgage business.
The well-guarded conformity of the many not only stifles the independent spirit, it can destroy it.
Critics have often commented on the fact that Jim Burden, in many senses, stands in for Willa Cather: In recent years some feminist critics have called it reactionary; others have termed it a liberating act in the days before American women even had the right to vote.
I like to be like a man. An piece all but scorches the page: But they have great standards, that saves them. Each house has its own little new improved portable idol and could never be convinced that it was not just as good as any other idol. Here the great standards of art avail nothing. You are then a translator, without a lexicon, without notes.My Ántonia has , ratings and 6, reviews.
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“Captivating ” – Booklist From award-winning author Amy Ehrlich comes an illustrated biography of Willa Cather.
Writers' Educational Community Writers Helping Writers Since The first, the largest, the best online university for writers. ENTER. Harper Lee, in full Nelle Harper Lee, (born April 28, , Monroeville, Alabama, U.S.—died February 19, , Monroeville), American writer nationally acclaimed for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird ().
Harper Lee is the daughter of Amasa Coleman Lee, a lawyer who was by all accounts apparently.
In this special expanded edition of MFA Insider, a distinguished writer and longtime professor shares a wealth of advice he’s been compiling for (and from) his students for decades. by Leslie Epstein. Willa Cather Longer Biographical Sketch by Amy Ahearn.
Remembered for her depictions of pioneer life in Nebraska, Willa Cather established a reputation for giving breath to the landscape of her fiction.