The Atlantic Bookshelf: A Guide to Good Books

BORN a Virginian of the Valley, Willa Cather was early transported to the West, where she grew up on a Nebraska ranch and was educated in the University of that state. This shift in her geography had a lasting influence on her novels to come. In time, journalism drew her eastward: she served four years on the staff of a newspaper: she wrote for the magazines; she was associate editor of McClure’s for seven years when that magazine was at the top of its stride. Meanwhile her books had begun to appear. Her first novel, Alexander a Bridge, was, she says, ’the result of meeting some interesting people in London. . . . Soon after the book was published I went for six months to-Arizona and New Mexico. The longer I stayed in a country I really did care about, and among people who were a part of the country, the more unnecessary and superficial a book like Alexander’s Bridge seemed to me.’ So she reverted to type. 0 Pioneers! — her next effort — was a book ‘entirely for myself, a story about some Swedish farmers in Nebraska. Thereafter came those novels, written with rare quality and understanding and dealing now with the present, now with the past, of our West and Southwest. Mg Antonia (1918) established Miss Cather definitely in the sun. One of Ours (1922) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.A Lost Lady (1923) and Death Cowes for the Archbishop (1927) distinguished her as our foremost woman novelist of to-day.