born in St Louis, Missouri, daughter of an Irish immigrant father and Creole mother. She married Oscar Chopin, a Creole, and went to live in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her husband died of swamp fever in 1882, leaving her with six children. After paying off his debts she returned to St Louis and began to write, using as material her memories of New Orleans and of Cane River, the latter providing material for three collections of short stories. She won posthumous recognition for The Awakening (1899), which tells the story of Edna Pontellier, married to a successful Creole business man, and leading a life of leisure; she commits adultery with one young man, while believing herself in love with another, and on the last page swims naked out to sea and presumably drowns. It was considered scandalous and morbid. Discouraged by its hostile reception, Chopin turned to poems, essays, and short stories.