Kate Chopin (1851-1904)

Kate Chopin (1851-1904)
Her parents last name was O’Flaherty.
Daughter of a merchant who was an Irish immigrant; Father was one of the
founders of the Pacific railroad and died when a bridge collapse on its first run
and the train crashed into the Gasconade River. Mother was member of high
society French-Creole family.
Educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, St. Louis where she was an avid
reader who read in French and German when necessary.
Was raised Catholic.
As she grew older she began to question the role of women available to her as
dictated by society and the Catholic Church.
Married a man from Louisiana, honeymooned in Europe, then moved to New
Orleans, husband denied his father’s request to come back to the north of
Louisiana to work on his plantations and instead worked as a “Cotton Factor”
dealing with the sale and financing of cotton.
Chopin was known for her unusual behavior including constantly attending
Operas and smoking cigarettes and walking alone throughout the city.
She had five sons and a daughter.
Eventually due to business failings the family was forced to move to the
plantations. Less than four years later, Chopin’s husband died and she stayed for a
year to run the plantations. She was forced to abandon this one year later and
moved back to St. Louis.
 Did not publish until six years after her husband’s death in 1889.
 Published several of her first short stories in Vogue where she got much acclaim.
Vogue went on to publish 18 of her stories.
 Her stories covered a wide range of topics including life in Louisiana, tales of
love, all of which with a specific attention to human feeling the moral complexity.
 Chopin’s writing was in the midst of her children playing in their living room.
She rarely had time to revise.
 She also wrote poetry and critical essays.
 Most famous for her novel The Awakening. She faced extreme amounts of
criticism for this novel and quit writing after that; “The Awakening was received
with indignation when it appeared in 1899. Critics averred that Chopin was a
pornographer and that her novel was immoral and even perverse.”