Kate Chopin (February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904) was an American author who made her mark writing stories for both adults and children in magazines like Vogue and The Youth Companion. Following the death of her husband and the failure of his businesses, she suffered from depression, but found writing to be the therapeutic outlet she needed. And because of the various changes in occupation and location, Chopin drew upon her experiences as material for her writing.
Living in the New Orleans area, she was inspired by those who, like here, were searching for a more fulfilling life of love and happiness. Chopin was a realist and wanted to represent the world as it was in her time, and she did this stunningly. She wasn’t afraid to confront harsh themes, as she did with the issue of racism in her short story, “Desirée’s Baby.”
Chopin is admired as one of the foremothers of 20th century feminist literature, though she may not consider herself a feminist as such; she simply thought that women’s desires and ambitions were just as men’s. Her best known work remains The Awakening. Though she wrote fiction, her stories contain profound and very real observations. She allowed the range of human experience she viewed in everyday life to come through in her writing. Kate Chopin died in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904.
More about Kate Chopin on this site
- Review by Willa Cather of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
- On Certain Brisk, Bright Days
- The Awakening (1899) – full text
Biographies about Kate Chopin
- Kate Chopin on Wikipedia
- The Kate Chopin International Society
- Kate Chopin – 23 Short Stories
- Kate Chopin’s works discussed on Goodreads
Read and Listen
- Kate Chopin on Project Gutenberg
- Audio recordings of Kate Chopin’s works on Librivox
- Amazon’s Kate Chopin page
Articles, News, Etc.
Kate Chopin Quotes
“Some people are born with a vital and responsive energy. It not only enables them to keep abreast of the times; it qualifies them to furnish in their own personality a good bit of the motive power to the mad pace.” (The Awakening and Selected Stories, 1899)
“I trust it will not be giving away professional secrets to say that many readers would be surprised, perhaps shocked, at the questions which some newspaper editors will put to a defenseless woman under the guise of flattery.”
“I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?”
“To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts — absolute gifts — which have not been acquired by one’s own effort. And, moreover, to succeed, the artist much possess the courageous soul …the brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.” (The Awakening and Selected Stories, 1899)
… Youth is given up to illusions. It seems to be a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost.” (The Awakening and Selected Stories, 1899)
“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I can beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.” (The Awakening and Selected Stories, 1899)
“Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life—that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.” (Description of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening and Selected Stories, 1899)
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