• Kate Chopin (born Katherine O'Flaherty February 8, 1851 – August 22, 1904) was an American author of short stories and novels, mostly of a Louisiana Creole background. She is now considered by some to have been a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century.
• From 1892 to 1895, she wrote short stories for both children and adults which were published insuch magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, the Century, and Harper's Youth's Companion. Her major works were two short story collections, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Her important short stories included "Desiree's Baby", a tale of miscegenation in antebellum Louisiana (published in 1893); "The Story of an Hour" (1894), and "The Storm "(1898). "The Storm" is a sequel to"The 'Cadian Ball," which appeared in her first collection of short stories, Bayou Folk. Chopin also wrote two novels: At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899), which are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle, respectively. The people in her stories are usually inhabitants of Louisiana. Many of her works are set in Natchitoches in north central Louisiana.
• Within a decade of her death, Chopinwas widely recognized as one of the leading writers of her time. In 1915, Fred Lewis Pattee wrote, "some of [Chopin's] work is equal to the best that has been produced in France or even in America. [She displayed] what may be described as a native aptitude for narration amounting almost to genius."
• Chopin was born Kate O'Flaherty and was believed to be the most popular girl inschool, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Thomas O'Flaherty, was a successful businessman who had emigrated from Galway, Ireland. Her mother, Eliza Faris, was a well-connected member of the French community in St. Louis. Her maternal grandmother, Athénaïse Charleville, was of French Canadian descent. Some of her ancestors were among the first European inhabitants of Dauphin Island, Alabama.
•After her father's death, Chopin developed a close relationship with her mother, grandmother, and her great-grandmother. She also became an avid reader of fairy tales, poetry, and religious allegories, as well as classic and contemporary novels. Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens were among her favorite authors.
• In 1865, she returned to Sacred Heart Academy, and began keeping a commonplacebook. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1868, but did not achieve any particular distinction.
• In 1870, at the age of 20, she married Oscar Chopin and settled in New Orleans. Chopin had all five of her children by 29. In 1879 Oscar Chopin's cotton brokerage failed, and the family moved to Cloutierville in south Natchitoches Parish to manage several small plantations and ageneral store. They became active in the community, and Chopin absorbed much material for her future writing, especially regarding the Creole culture of the area. Their home at 243 Highway 495 (built by Alexis Cloutier in the early part of the century) was a national historic landmark and the home of the Bayou Folk Museum. On October 1, 2008, the house was destroyed by a fire, with little leftbut the chimney.
• When Oscar Chopin died in 1882 (like his half-brother two decades earlier), he left Kate with $12,000 in debt (approximately $263,432 in 2009 money). She attempted to manage the plantation and store alone but with little success. According to Emily Toth, "for awhile the widow Kate ran his [Oscar's] business and flirted outrageously with local men; (she even engaged in arelationship with a married farmer. )". Although Chopin made an honest effort to keep her late husband's plantation and general store alive, two years later she sold her Louisiana business. Her mother implored her to move back to St. Louis, so Chopin did, and the children gradually settled into life in St. Louis, where finances were no longer a concern. The following year, Chopin's mother died.