Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947) was an acclaimed novelist and short story writer. Born in Virginia, she grew up in Nebraska and returned to her childhood experiences through her depiction of Plains life in later novels such as O Pioneers! (1913) and My Antonia (1918). She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1895 and worked initially in journalism, moving first to Pittsburgh and then, in 1906, to New York City, her permanent home. She lived and traveled with her lifelong companion, Edith Lewis. One of Ours (1922), which takes place in World War I, won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize. Her passion for the American Southwest is captured in Death Comes to the Archbishop (1927). She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1938. In later years, she summered on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy and spent part of each autumn in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where she is buried.
Cather considered Sarah Orne Jewett her primary mentor and carried out Jewett’s example of being completely dedicated to the art of writing and to one’s material.
Our collection contains letters and manuscripts as well as published works and bibliographies, first appearances in periodicals, and books, articles and letters about Cather. The core collection was received from Patrick J Ferry of Valhalla, New York, beginning in 1960. Curator Richard Cary welcomed the Cather Collection due to its ties to the New England region and, stylistically, to Sarah Orne Jewett. Ferry continued to build the collection through the 1960s, also donating items for the Thomas Hardy, A E Housman, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mosher Press and Rubaiyat collections.
Cary, Richard. “A Willa Cather Collection.” Colby Library Quarterly. Waterville, ME: Colby College Library, June 1968. Print and web.
Patrick J Ferry donor file. Colby College Special Collections.
Willa Cather Archive. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Web. 19 March 2015.
“Willa Sibert Cather.” American National Biography Online. Web. 19 March 2015.
HIGHLIGHTED DONORS FOR THIS COLLECTION
Patrick J Ferry – primary donor