“A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.” Willa Cather from O Pioneers
I immerse myself in Willa Cather’s stories and ponder the insights of her characters. We rural Nebraskans resemble pioneers. During the 1980’s and years of drought and low prices for crops and cattle, the economy bottomed out and people left the small towns to find work, especially the youth. Now we are rebuilding and reformulating the work and worth of our rural communities. At times I believe I am imagining and enjoying the “idea of things” in ways similar to our town fathers and mothers in the 1880’s. Cather writes for us and the world in words as meaningful today as during her lifetime.
Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1873 and died in 1947. The Cather family settled in Webster County, Nebraska when Willa was 10 years old, and at age 16, she graduated from High School in Red Cloud, the county seat of Webster County. Willa Cather matriculated at the University of Nebraska School of Journalism following her graduation.
Although Willa lived her adult years on the East Coast, her depictions of the Nebraska prairie and farmers and first generation immigrants who populated the small towns on the prairie live again in her most memorable stories. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours, a book inspired by a Cather relative who fought and died in World War I.
Red Cloud, Nebraska, Willa Cather’s home town and home to the Cather Foundation in situated is south central Nebraska and only 1 hour’s drive from my home in Holdrege, Nebraska. Nearly as interesting as an actual visit to Red Cloud, I can experience Red Cloud and Willa Cather’s home, collections of her letters, photos, memorabilia and so much more on the Cather Foundation’s new website www.WillaCather.org
I appreciate reading Willa Cather’s body of work and important dates and times in her life depicted on a Timeline and published on the www.WillaCather.org website. Seeing photos of Red Cloud’s historic buildings, the Cather family home, family pictures, and a selection of her letters published on the site connect me with her childhood experiences that informed her writing and her public life as well.
Visit www.WillaCather.org and get to know Willa Cather and read the novels and short stories that reveal the depths and vagaries of humanity, Cather’s importance in America’s literary world, her appreciation of the Nebraska prairie that was as strong and enduring as the wind across the plains.
As you scroll through the website, notice the vitality of the Willa Cather Foundation and see their soon-to-be-realized plan for developing an historic building in Red Cloud to preserve the Cather archives and letters, publication of the Willa Cather Newsletter & Review, guided tours of historic sites relating to Cather’s life, an art gallery, organization of conferences, seminars, and writers workshops, the preservation of a native prairie, and more.
“The Willa Cather Foundation invites you to experience the life, times, and work of Willa Cather. Here, you can tour her home, read her work, visit her beloved Opera House, and shop the largest collection of books by and about Willa Cather.” www.WillaCather.org
Join me in Red Cloud whenever you get this way, and every day and any day on www.WillaCather.org