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The Stuff of our Forebears: Willa Cather’s Southern Heritage by Joyce McDonald

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One of my favorite factoids is that Willa Cather and Patsy Cline grew up in the same little Virginia community of Gore, west of Winchester. Another irony is that even though Willa Cather is primarily known for writing about the Nebraska frontier, she lived most of her life in New York City, and grew up in Appalachia! The only book by Cather set in the area where she grew up is the novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl.  This is a fascinating study that points out, for example, that Cather’s paternal grandparents, maternal grandmother, and an aunt and uncle also moved to Nebraska, so the influence of her deeply rooted Virginia mountain family continued to have a profound and very personal effect upon her after she moved. "McDonald succeeds in establishing both the importance and the relevance of those formative years before the Nebraska experience that scholars have so emphasized for several decades. . . . The Stuff of Our Forebears is a readable, insightful addition to Cather scholarship."—Bruce P. Baker II. The author, Joyce McDonald, is actually best known as a highly successful author of books for young adults and children. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, a 2019 paperback reprint of a 1998 release. 142 pages with an Index, Bibliography, and Notes. Trade paperback.