Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Bruce Baker


The reputation of Willa Cather is based, for the most part, on her novels of the frontier, particularly My Antonia (1918) and Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927). Her childhood years in Nebraska exposed her to the pioneer experience in America, and the way of life she knew in a small, prairie town late in the nineteenth century was to become a major influence in her writing. Taking the advice of Sarah Orne Jewett, Miss Cather found her “quiet centre of life,” and wrote about that which she knew best--the life she lived, the people who made that life interesting, and the fading days of the American West. As a result, Cather has frequently been considered both social historian an autobiographer. While there can be no denying that she was indeed both, it is perhaps more important to remember that Willa Cather was first an artist. Art was her way of life. She wanted more than anything else to capture “the shining , elusive element which is life itself--life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.” Thus, Cather’s novels were never purely historical or auto biographical. Rather, her works were, and are, a delicate web of fact and fiction, spun with the care of a scrupulous craftsman, reflecting the dignity of Cather’s own “kingdom of Art.”


A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1975 Kevin A. Synnott.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."