“Not often are we given an opportunity to observe a great American writer arrive for the first time in the Old World from the New, there to record first impressions spontaneously, as they came, subject to no second thoughts, no later, leveling revision,” George N. Kates writes in his Introduction to Willa Cather in Europe.
“The fourteen travel articles that form the present volume, written by Willa Cather on a first journey to England and France, give as just such a record . . . 1902 was the Edwardian year when Willa Cather, with her friend Isabelle McClung, proceeded on this journey. We can follow them as they go, from Liverpool to Chester and Shrewsbury, to Ludlow and the quiet Shropshire country; onward into the dim vastness of London . . . then further across the Channel to the other skies, to Rouen, Paris, and the Midi.”
Mr. Kates has supplied an interpretive Introduction and “Incidental Notes.”
About Willa Cather
Willa Cather was probably born in Virginia in 1873, although her parents did not register the date, and it is probably incorrectly given on her tombstone. Because she is so famous for her Nebraska novels, many people assume she was born there, but Willa Cather was about nine years old when her family moved to a small Nebraska frontier town called Red Cloud that was populated by immigrant Swedes, Bohemians, Germans, Poles, Czechs, and Russians. The oldest of seven children, she was educated at home, studied Latin with a neighbor, and read the English classics in the evening. By the time she went to the University of Nebraska in 1891–where she began by wearing boy’s clothes and cut her hair close to her head–she had decided to be a writer.
After graduation she worked for a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper, then moved to Pittsburgh and finally to New York City. There she joined McClure’s magazine, a popular muckraking periodical that encouraged the writing of new young authors. After meeting the author Sarah Orne Jewett, she decided to quit journalism and devote herself full time to fiction. Her first novel, Alexander’s Bridge, appeared in serial form in McClure’ s in 1912. But her place in American literature was established with her first Nebraska novel, O Pioneers!, published in 1913, which was followed by her most famous pioneer novel, My Antonia, in 1918. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize for one of her lesser-known books, One of Ours. Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), her masterpiece, and Shadows on the Rock (1931) also celebrated the pioneer spirit, but in the Southwest and French Canada. Her other novels include The Song of the Lark (1915), The Professor’ s House (1925), My Mortal Enemy (1926), and Lucy Gayheart (1935). Willa Cather died in 1947.