Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter (1890 - 1980) was an American short story writer, novelist, and journalist, best known for her dark short stories about betrayal and death. She became a leading author in the genre of Southern Literature and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1966 for The Complete Stories (1965).

Born in Indian Creek, Texas as Callie Russel Porter, she was a distant relative of legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone. After her mother died when she was only two, Callie and her three siblings were raised by their grandmother, whose name she later adopted. She attended a private Methodist school for only one year of education after grammar school, then married an abusive husband at sixteen, converted to Catholicism, divorced in 1914, and was able to change her legal name to Katherine Anne Porter.

Porter escaped to Chicago and worked as a movie-extra before contracting tuberculosis. She was treated in a sanatorium for two years, during which she decided to become a writer. It turned out she had bronchitis, and almost died during the flu epidemic of 1918 in Denver, where she was a reporter for The Rocky Mountain News. During her illness she became bald, and when her hair finally grew back, it remained stark white for the rest of her life. Porter wrote about her experiences in her trilogy of short novels, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), which won the first gold medal for literature in 1940.

In 1919, Porter moved to New York City, where she became a successful ghost writer, publishing My Chinese Marriage (1921), her first novel, written for Mai Tiam Franking. Porter became a successful short story author in 1920s and 1930s, publishing her first collection, Flowering Judas and Other Stories in 1930. She became politically active with the leftist movement in Mexico, traveling and meeting with Diego Rivera and other activists, before becoming disillusioned with the revolution and religion in general, in the late 1920s. Porter gained financial security from selling the movie rights to her only novel, Ship of Fools (1962).

The Old Order: Stories of the South (1955) is our favorite collection of Porter's work. Along with Flannery O'Connor, whose works we consider some of the best in Southern Literature, we look forward to offering their stories when available in the public domain.

Visit our collection of Pulitzer Prizes for other winning literature and author profiles.

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