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Drew Special Collections and University Archives

Biographical Note

Willa Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virginia , on December 7, 1873 . In 1883 she and her family moved to Nebraska , settling in Red Cloud two years later. Cather attended the University of Nebraska and began publishing reviews and stories in local papers. She graduated in 1895 and subsequently took a position at Home Monthly magazine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1906 she moved to New York City to join the staff of McClure's Magazine, where she worked as managing editor until 1912. Though we associate Cather with Nebraska and the Midwest, New York now became her permanent home. After 1912 she dedicated herself fully to her writing, and with her long-time companion Edith Lewis enjoyed frequent travel and a wide circle of friends. In 1923 Cather was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours. She died on April 24, 1947.

Her books include: April Twilights (1903), The Troll Garden (1905), Alexander's Bridge (1912), O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), My Antonia (1918), Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920), A Lost Lady (1923), One of Ours (1922), The Professor's House (1925), My Mortal Enemy (1926), Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), Shadows on the Rock (1931), Obscure Destinies (1932), Lucy Gayheart (1935), Not Under Forty (1936), Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940), and On Writing (1949).

Scope Note

Drew University Library's Willa Cather Collection is an extensive and fully cataloged collection of printed and manuscript material. The collection contains the personal library of the late Frederick B. Adams, former director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, as well as the private collection of Earl and Achsah Brewster, who shared a long friendship with Cather. The collections of Finn and Barbara Morris Caspersen and Yehudi Menuhin are the newest additions to the collection. The call numbers of each book or manuscript (as shown in the finding aid) note the name of the original collector, i.e. Adams, Brewster, Caspersen or Menuhin.

The finding aid (HTML,PDF) is arranged by type of material and is divided into several general categories: published material by, owned by, or about Cather; correspondence to, from, or about Cather; typed and manuscript notes and marginalia by and about Cather; photographs; and miscellaneous ephemera. Published material is generally arranged chronologically according to the first publication date. In the case of books, all printings of a given work follow its first listing, arranged by Crane number. Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Notes and marginalia are arranged chronologically by date if known, or by the date of the item into which they were inserted or inscribed. The ephemera is arranged in the same manner.

In 2005, Drew Library hosted a Cather Colloquium. The schedule, program, etc. are available online

The Drew University Willa Cather Collection has been made possible through the generous donations of Finn and Barbara Morris Caspersen.

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