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The Life and Literary Work of Kate Chopin

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The Life and Literary Work of Kate Chopin

Courageous . . . daring . . . innovative . . . all aptly describe Kate Chopin, American short story writer, novelist, poet, and essayist. Timeless classics, Kate Chopin’s works of the late nineteenth century remain rare jewels and priceless gifts to the literary world today.

Born Katherine O’Flaherty on February 8, 1851, in St. Louis, Chopin was the daughter of a prominent Irish merchant and an aristocratic French-Creole mother. Chopin’s roots in, and familiarity with, two distinctly different cultures were important on both a personal and creative level throughout her life. As a member of a slave-owning family and an elite social circle, Chopin was exposed to people of diverse color and background, many of whom provided the basis for her later writings.

Kate Chopin was one of five children; and the only one to survive past the age of twenty-five. Chopin’s father was killed in a train accident when Chopin was only four years old, leaving her to be reared under the strong maternal influences of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. These determined women and life’s harsh losses taught Chopin valuable lessons of strength and independence.

Kate Chopin’s formal education began when she was five years old at Sacred Heart Academy, a catholic school, and she graduated at seventeen. She had been an honor student, was widely read, and spoke two languages fluently. Upon graduation, Chopin entered the social life of St. Louis, and was noted to be "one of the acknowledged belles of St. Louis, a favorite not only for her beauty, but also for her amiability of character and her cleverness" (Seyersted 23). By this time, she loved (and was accomplished at) reading, music, and wr...

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