World Famous author, Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), moved with her family from Virginia to the Red Cloud area in 1883. Nebraska became what Cather later described as "the happiness and the curse of my life". The state's most celebrated novelist, Willa Cather wrote about the people and places she knew firsthand. In fact, she set numerous short stories and six of her twelve novels in her childhood home of Red Cloud and many of her acquaintances can be identified in her writings. With works including, O Pioneers!, A Lost Lady, and My Antonia , the writer poignantly recounted the struggles and the joys of life on the Great Plains, a land "as bare as a piece of sheet iron".
Restored to its early appearance, the Childhood Home, a National Historic Landmark, is the most notable of the collected properties. Willa Cather's room was upstairs on the north. The wallpaper of red and brown roses, put on the walls by Willa herself, is still there. The Cather children called this room "The Rose Bower". Many Cather family artifacts, including the family Bible in which Cather changed her birthdate, await the visitor's scrutiny.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska, she earned numerous accolades throughout her lifetime, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. The Cather House, in which she lived from 1884 to 1904, figures prominently in, The Song of the Lark:
"They turned into another street and saw before them lighted windows; a low story-and-a-half house, with a wing built on at the right and a kitchen addition at the back, everything a little on the slant - roofs, windows, and doors."
This house and each room can be found not only in The Song of the Lark , but also in "The Best Years", and "Old Mrs. Harris". This house is the most important Nebraska building associated with her literary career.
Come visit us in Red Cloud, Nebraska