The Life of Kate Chopin Born originally as Katherine O’Flaherty, Kate Chopin came to life on February 8 th, 1851 in St. Louis, Missouri to Thomas and Eliza O’Flaherty. The family she was born into was known as one of St. Louis’ wealthiest family’s because of her father’s well-known success as merchant involving the sale of boats and wholesale grocery. In 1855 Thomas O’Flaherty died suddenly from a work-related railroad accident. Kate lacked male role models in her life after her father died.
She was raised by three generations of women, including her maternal great-grandmother, Madame Victoria Verdon Charleville, who instructed Kate in music lessons, French lessons, and storytelling. Additionally, Kate attended the prestigious Sacred Heart Academy, which promoted intelligence and independent thinking: this helped Kate begin her lifelong love of reading and writing. When Kate was eleven, Madame Charleville died, and Kate’s half-brother George was killed while fighting in the Civil War for the Confederate side. At the age of nineteen Kate O’Flaherty married Oscar Chopin, the son of a wealthy cotton-growing family in Louisiana. The union between these two individuals produced six children (five boys and two girls).
Oscar was French Catholic, as was Kate.
In 1882, Oscar Chopin died of malaria also known at the time as swamp fever. Kate managed her husband’s business for approximately a year and then returned to live near her mother in St. Louis. A year after her return, her mother passed away. To support herself and her family, Kate began to write. She was immediately successful and wrote short stories about people she had known in Louisiana.
... to St. Louis with her mother. Family friends who found her letters entertaining encouraged her to “write professionally” (Chopin, Kate – Introduction). Chopin started writing ... symbolism, comparison, and assertiveness (Chopin, Kate – Introduction). When Mr. Mallard died it was symbolic for Oscar Chopin, and how Kate herself felt as a woman ...
Her first novel, At Fault, was published in 1890 when Kate was forty. When The Awakening was published in 1899, the story created a scandal because of its portrayal of a strong, unconventional woman involved in an adulterous affair. It was inspired by a true story of a New Orleans woman who was infamous in the French Quarter. By 1899, Kate was a well-known woman writer, having published over one hundred stories, essays, and sketches in literary magazines.
Chopin died of a brain hemorrhage after a strenuous day at the St. Louis World’s Fair. She was remembered only as one of the southern local colorists of the 1890’s until The Awakening was rediscovered in the 1970’s. A third collection of stories A Vocation and a Voice was published posthumously in 1991..