Biography of Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin was one of the most influential nineteenth century American fiction writers. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri on either one of three dates: February 8, 1851, February 8, 1850, or July 12, 1850, depending on the source. She once said that she was born in 1851, but her baptismal certificate states February 8, 1850 as her birthday (Inge, 2). There is also an indiscretion regarding the spelling of her name. Her full name is Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin, but one source spells her first name with a ‘C’ (Katherine, 1). Her father, Thomas O’Flaherty, was an Irish immigrant who became a successful merchant in St. Louis. Her mother, Eliza Faris O’Flaherty, came from a wealthy aristocratic Creole family (Inge, 2). Kate Chopin was a student at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis. Here she learned the Catholic teachings and great intellectual discipline. She graduated from this French school in 1868 (Inge, 2). On June 9th in 1870, she married Oscar Chopin. Together the couple had six children: Jean (1871), Oscar (1873), George (1874), Frederick (1876), Felix (1878), and Lelia (1879) (Inge, 3).
During the 12 years that she was married, Chopin spent 9 years in New Orleans and the following three years in Cloutierville in Natchitoches Parish (Inge, 3). She was an extremely unconventional woman for her era. Not only did she write about a forbidden subject, female sexuality, but she smoked cigarettes and would go on long walks through the streets of New Orleans by herself, both of which were not common practices during the nineteenth century (Inge, 3). Kate Chopin enjoyed the variety of cultures that surrounded her in Louisiana; she was involved in the lives of the wealthy Creoles and the poor sharecroppers.
Tragedy struck her in December of 1882, when her husband became ill from swamp fever and passed away (Inge, 3). Shortly after his death, Chopin became involved with a man by the name of Albert Sampite, a married man (Anderson, 1). A lot of inspiration is thought to have come from this relationship because so many of the characters in her stories are married individuals who become sexually involved with a single partner resulting in a relationship that ethically could never survive. She left Cloutierville in 1884, partly because of her relationship with Sampite, and moved back to St. Louis to be close to her mother (Inge, 3).

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