From the History Files

f7pf.1922.catherw.02.jpgAmong the many important academic and literary figures associated with the Bread Loaf School of English in its formative years is Willa Cather. Invited to the mountain campus as a visiting lecturer in 1922, the school’s third year, she spent three weeks in residence. According to Bread Loaf historian George K. Anderson, Cather’s Bread Loaf residency was the only occasion in which she gave a series of lectures. For years afterward, students and faculty members referred to that session as the “Willa Cather Summer.”

By the time she came to Bread Loaf, Cather was recognized as a major American writer. Her three “prairie trilogy” novels—O Pioneers, The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia—had been published between 1913 and 1918. An anonymous Bread Loaf student wrote that Cather “spent many hours down in the little cabin [just west of the tennis courts, now known as the Tea Cabin] beyond the summer house. Here she worked on One of Ours, which was published that fall” and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

On her departure, Cather expressed the hope that she would return. She never did, but her brief association with the School of English helped to secure its reputation as an exceptional and progressive summer program.f7pf.1922.catherw.03.jpg