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Katherine Anne Porter

Darlene Harbour Unrue

in American Literature

ISBN: 9780199827251
Published online August 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0081
Katherine Anne Porter

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Katherine Anne Porter (b. 1890–d. 1980), christened Callie Russell Porter, was born in Indian Creek, Texas, and spent her formative years in Kyle, Texas, with her paternal grandmother, Catharine Ann Skaggs Porter. After the death of her grandmother in 1901, Callie spent a few months at a convent school in New Orleans and a year at the private Thomas School in San Antonio, where she expanded her reading and began her serious writing. At age fourteen she informally changed her name to Katherine Porter, and at age sixteen she married John Henry Koontz, converting to Roman Catholicism and continuing to read voraciously and write poems and stories. By the time she divorced Koontz in 1915 (legally changing her name from Katherine Koontz to Katherine Porter), she had only two negligible publications. During the next four years, she married and divorced a second and third time, spent months in tuberculosis sanatoria, began to call herself Katherine Anne Porter, nearly died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, launched a journalistic apprenticeship, and in 1919 moved to Greenwich Village. In 1920, however, she was drawn to Mexico, where her mature creative force was loosed, and she began to publish the stories that would make her fame with their appearance in 1930 as the limited edition of six stories titled Flowering Judas. In the 1930s through the 1950s, Porter continued to publish critically acclaimed short novels and short stories as well as nonfiction, important collections appearing as Flowering Judas and Other Stories (1935), Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels (1939), The Leaning Tower and Other Stories (1944), and The Days Before (1952); worked on her evolving long novel, Ship of Fools (1962); married and divorced two final times; received numerous awards and honorary degrees; and found financial support in fellowships, speaking engagements, a stint in Hollywood as a scriptwriter, academic appointments, and residencies at the artist colony Yaddo. With the publication of Ship of Fools Porter became wealthy, but her creative vein was exhausted. During the remainder of her life she published only works she had written earlier, most notably The Collected Stories (1965), which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter (1970), and The Never-Ending Wrong (1977), her memoir about the Sacco-Vanzetti protests of 1927. By the time she died in 1980 she had been recognized as one of the important voices in American modernism.

Article.  12194 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (American)

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