In this episode, we discuss the life and work of Willa Cather. As one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century, Cather was gifted in conveying an intimate understanding of her characters in relation to their personal and cultural environments—environments that often derived from Red Cloud, Nebraska where she spent most of her childhood. Seen as a regional writer for decades after her passing in 1947, critics have increasingly identified Cather as a canonical American writer, the peer of authors like Hemingway, Faulkner and Wharton. Complex and brilliant, Willa Cather lives on through her many devoted readers. She is the author of 12 novels; 6 collections of short fiction; 2 editions of her book of poetry, April Twilights; and numerous works of nonfiction, collected journalism, speeches, and letters.
In honor of her contributions to American letters and culture, a sculpture of Cather will be unveiled in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in 2023. Learn more here.
For this episode we are joined by Rachel Olsen, Director of Education and Engagement at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska. A former college English teacher, she enjoys developing activities and content designed to preserve Cather’s rich literary history. In addition to supervising a team of programming and visitor services staff, Rachel organizes the Teacher Institute and Author Series programs, oversees Opera House seasons of events, plans conferences and seminars, and fosters relationships with educators from area schools, colleges, and universities. Rachel has a Master’s degree in English from Kansas State University with a certificate in Women’s Studies and was a full-time faculty member and writing center director at Oklahoma City Community College before moving to Red Cloud.
Rachel is interviewed by Nate King, Digital Content Associate at the American Writers Museum.
Continue your exploration of Cather’s work and legacy with the National Willa Cather Center’s official app, which includes virtual tours, bonus collections material, historic photographs and more. We also encourage you to get involved and attend some of the Cather Center’s upcoming events next year:
- 68th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference (June 1 – June 3; Red Cloud, NE)
- 18th International Cather Seminar (June 21 – June 23; New York, NY)