Hermione Lee’s provocative and influential biography provides a sensitive reappraisal of a marvelous and often underrated writer. The Willa Cather she reveals here was a Nebraskan who spent much of her life in self-imposed exile from the prairies she celebrated in O Pioneers! and My Antonia, a woman whose life was riddled with the tension between masculine and feminine, and a writer whose naturalness of style disguised exquisite artistry. By exposing the contradictions that lie at the heart of much of Cather’s life and work, Lee locates new layers of meaning and places her firmly at the forefront of the modern literary tradition that was taking shape in her time.
About the Author
HERMIONE LEE is a biographer, critic, teacher of literature, and president of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Among her many works are literary biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Penelope Fitzgerald; for the latter, she won the James Tait Black Prize and the Plutarch Award for the best biography of 2014. She is also the author of critical books on Elizabeth Bowen and Philip Roth. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was made a CBE in 2003 for services to literature, and a DBE in 2013 for services to literary scholarship. She lives in Oxford and Yorkshire.
“Cather could not have hoped for a more passionately sensible and insightful interpreter.” —The Observer
“The biographer’s enthusiasm for her subject illuminates every page.” —Hilary Mantel
“A valuable critical study. . . . So absorbing that it provokes a rereading of [all of Cather’s] work.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Sympathetic and illuminating. . . . Lee’s reading of Cather rediscovers her as a disconcerting, complex writer of conflicting energies and sexual doubleness.” —New Statesman