Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 10, 1975)
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Photo by Td Kirk
"Winter. . .the season in which nature recuperates, in
which she sinks to sleep between the fruit fulness of
Autumn and the passion of spring."
Photo by David Mob ley -
"I felt the old pull of the earth, the solemn magic that comes
out of these fields at nightfall."
By Bill Roberts
"She had always the power of suggest
ing things much lovelier than herself,"
wrote WUla Cather, "as the perfume of a
single flower may call up the whole sweet
ness of spring."
Although Cather was describing Marian
Forrester, main character in her 1923
novel, A Lost Lady, she might have been
describing the rolling prairies of her child
hood home in Red Cloud, Neb. For Cather,
these grasslands suggested the pioneer spirit,
the grand urge to bring order to the
The prairies now are tamed. But her
books about Nebraska-0 Pioneers!, My
Antonia, A Lost Ladyhet short stories
and poems still call up the courage and
spirit of those times.
Born in Virginia's Back Creek Valley in
1873, Cather moved to Nebraska when she
was nine years old. But she never was cut
off from civilization. Her father was an
educated man, Willa an insatiable reader,
and Red Cloud, situated on the railroad's
main line, was not isolated.
In Nebraska she played on the bluffs
and sandbars of the Republican River,
collected seashells and performed scien
tific experiments. When she was graduated
from Red Cloud High School in 1890, her
commencement address was titled "Super
stition vs. Investigation."
Cather'i literary talents emerged during
her five years at the University of Nebraska.
She wrote for the campus news and liter
ary magazine, the Hesperian, and worked
for the Nebraska State Journal newspaper.
After graduation she moved to Pitts
burgh, then to New York in 1906. There
S. S. McClure arranged for her collection
of short stories, The Troll Garden, to be
published. She worked for McClure's Mag
azine and eventually became managing
editor, , .,
She traveled extensively as an editor of
one of America's finest magazines and her
trips to the West became more frequent.:'
Her rediscovery of Nebraska and the Amer
ican Southwest inspired her to write the
fiction which made her the greatest author
this state has produced.
Cather had come to the West not as a
trailblazer, but with the second genera
tion of pioneers. She grew up among strug
gles that would shape the quality of life in
the West, the changing of sodhouses into
"This was the very end of the road
making West," a character in A Lost Lady
reflects. "It was already gone, that age;
nothing could ever bring it back. The taste
and smell and song of it, the visions those
men had seen in the air and followed,
these he had caught in a kind of afterglow
in their own faces,-and this would always
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'Trees were so rare in that
country. . .they had to make such
a hard fight to grow, It must have
been the scarcity of detail in that
tawny landscape that made detail
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