Willa Cather was born in Virginia on December 7, 1873. Her family moved to Nebraska in 1883, ultimately settling in the town of Red Cloud, where the National Willa Cather Center is located today. She attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Cather moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1896 to pursue a career in journalism and work for the women's magazine Home Monthly. After a few years, she took a break to teach high school English and focus on her creative writing. In 1903 she published her first book, April Twilights (The Gorham Press), a collection of poems, and began writing and publishing short stories. In 1906, she moved to New York City to take an editorial position at McClure's Magazine, where she worked until 1911 when she left to again focus on her creative writing.
She is the author of twenty books and best know for her works of fiction, including Death Comes for the Archbishop (Alfred A. Knopf, 1927); One of Ours (Alfred A. Knopf, 1922), which won the Pulitzer Prize; My Antonia (Houghton Mifflin, 1918); and O, Pioneers! (Houghton Mifflin, 1913).
Cather was awarded a gold medal in fiction by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1944. She died in New York City on April 24, 1947, and is memorialized at the American Poets' Corner at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.