Born: 07-12-1873, Gore (Virginia, US)
Died: 24-04-1947, Manhattan (New York, US)
Willa Silbert Carther was born as Wilella Sibert Carther on December 7, 1873, as a daughter of Charles Fectigue Carther. Originally, her family emigrated from Wales to the United States, six generations before Carther was born.
The Carther family moved to Nebraska in 1883. Her father wanted to escape the tuberculosis outbreaks in the area they lived. For eighteen months, her father tried farming the land he purchased but wasn’t successful. After eighteen months, the family moved to Red Cloud. In this city, her father started a real estate and insurance business. From now on, the children could go to school. It was around this time, that Willa showed her writing skills, as a local newspaper published her work Red Cloud Chief.
Nebraska was at that time pretty much unexplored. The scenery and the influence of nature formed a great inspiration for Willa to write about. She was also moved by the cultural differences from those who moved to Nebraska.
Her essay about Thomas Carlyle was published in the Nebraska State Journal when she studying at the University of Nebraska. She started writing more often and more people had the chance to read her work. She had her mind set on becoming a physician but graduated BA in English Literature in 1894.
Carther moved to Pittsburgh after graduation (1896). She began to start writing for the Home Monthly. She also wrote for the magazine Ladies’ Home Journal. From there on, she became editor and critic for the Pittsburgh Leader. She combined her job with writing poetry and short fiction. Her first collection of stories was published in 1905 (The Troll Garden). Not long after this publication, she moved to New York City. She was added to the editorial staff of McClure’s Magazine in 1906. Her second book, The life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the history of Christian Science, was published in 1909. In the following years, she published more of her work. All this lead the Pulitzer Prize for her work in 1922.
As the Second World War was closing in, she feared for her generation. She was worried about the political future of the United States and the rest of the world. During this war, she finished her last novel, entitled Sapphira and the slave girl (1941). Sapphira was presented as a character that lacked moral sense and her work was considered darker, then her other work.
At the time of her death, she was working on another novel. The manuscript was destroyed, according to her last wish. Carther died on April 24, 1947, due to a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73.