Chopin revealed through her artistry the realities of many women’s stifled lives and the oppression of often-overlooked minority groups such as the Creoles and Cajuns. Chopin also depicted the beauty of these people’s lifestyle in the Louisiana bayou region and the power of individuals to shape their own lives. Through lyrical depictions of natural settings, Chopin compared the powers of nature to the potential for human self-empowerment.
Kate Chopin was born Katherine O’Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. Her mother’s family was Creole, descended from French settlers, and her father, a successful merchant, was an Irish immigrant. She was educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis beginning in 1860, five years after her father’s accidental death, and was graduated in 1868. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin, who took her to live in Louisiana, first in New Orleans and later in Natchitoches Parish, the setting for many of her stories. In 1882, Oscar died of swamp fever; Kate Chopin managed her husband’s properties for a year and in 1884 returned to St. Louis. The next year her mother died, and in 1888 Chopin began writing out of a need for personal expression and to help support her family financially. Her stories appeared regularly in popular periodicals, and she published a novel, At Fault, in 1890. Bayou Folk, a collection of stories and sketches, appeared in 1894, the year her widely anthologized “The Story of an Hour” was written. A Night in Acadie followed, and she was identified as one of four outstanding literary figures in St. Louis by the Star-Times. Her celebrated novel, The Awakening, received hostile reviews that upset her, though reports about the book being banned were greatly exaggerated. She did, however, write relatively little after this controversy and died five years later in St. Louis, where she was attending the world’s fair.
Kate Chopin was born Katherine O’Flaherty on February 8, 1851, in St. Louis, Missouri, into a socially prominent family with roots in the French past of both St. Louis and New Orleans. Her father, Thomas O’Flaherty, an immigrant from Ireland, had lived in New York and Illinois before settling in St. Louis, where he prospered as the owner of a commission house. In 1839, he married into a well-known Creole family, members of the city’s social elite, but his wife died in childbirth only a year later. In 1844, he married Eliza Faris, merely fifteen years old but, according to French custom, eligible for marriage. Faris was the daughter of a Huguenot man who had migrated from Virginia and a woman who was descended from the...
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Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin (SHO-pan) may well be the most important American female realist writer of the late nineteenth century, and in The Awakening she produced a masterpiece worthy of comparison with Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857). Katherine O’Flaherty was the daughter of the wealthy Irish immigrant Thomas O’Flaherty and his second wife, Eliza Feris, a descendant of an old Creole family. When she was four years old, her father died in a railway accident; the event affected her deeply, and the account of a similar catastrophe plays a central role in “The Story of an Hour” (1894).
Four generations of women lived in the O’Flaherty household when Kate was young. Especially...
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Kate Chopin Biography
A popular writer of Creole life in Louisiana, Katherine O'Flaherty Chopin (1851 – 1904) is remembered today primarily for her ground-breaking feminist novel, The Awakening. She was reared and educated in St. Louis, Missouri. Chopin had a mixed background—an Irish father and French Creole mother. Chopin was a witty, intelligent debutante who married, traveled to Europe, and then settled in New Orleans. Her father's death, her close relationship with her family, and a habit of avid reading all contributed to her later writing.
Although actively involved in the social life of the city during her years there, she was still able to give birth...
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Kate O’Flaherty Chopin was born into a wealthy Catholic family in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 8, 1851. Her mother, Eliza Fans, was from an aristocratic French-Creole family, and her father, Thomas O’Flaherty, was an Irish immigrant who became a prominent merchant in St. Louis. After her father died in 1855, Kate was raised at home, among three generations of strong-willed and self-sufficient female relatives who undoubtedly influenced her attitudes about women.
On June 9, 1870, two years after graduating from a St. Louis convent school, Kate married Oscar Chopin, a French-Creole. After the marriage, she moved with her husband to New Orleans, where Oscar had a cotton-brokering business. In the first years of...
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