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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- William Faulkner
- Zora Neale Hurston
- Flannery O'Connor
- Katherine Anne Porter
- John Crowe Ransom
- Robert Penn Warren
- Eudora Welty
- Tennessee Williams
- Thomas Wolfe
- Richard Wright
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)

Crowds Surge around President-Elect General Obregon Entering Mexico City in a Truck with Ricardo Topete on His Right and Generals Manzo and Cruz on His Left
[7280] Anonymous, Crowds Surge around President-Elect General Obregon Entering Mexico City in a Truck with Ricardo Topete on His Right and Generals Manzo and Cruz on His Left (1928), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-115962].

Katherine Anne Porter Activities
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"It is my firm belief," Katherine Anne Porter once said, "that all our lives we are preparing to be somebody or something, even if we do not do it consciously." Porter knew at a young age she wanted to be a writer, and she worked diligently and methodically toward that goal, achieving recognition as one of America's finest writers of short fiction by the time she reached the age of forty. Born Callie Russell Porter in a small log house in Indian Creek, Texas, Katherine Anne and her three siblings were raised by their maternal grandmother after their mother died. The family lived in poverty, and when Porter turned sixteen she married a railroad clerk named John Henry Koontz--both to leave home and to find the financial security she'd never known. Porter did not take to domestic life, however, and soon separated from her husband, assumed the name Katherine Anne, and turned to a life of travel and career changes. After a serious bout with tuberculosis, Porter took her first job as a professional writer with the Fort Worth Critic, and from there she went on to live and work in Denver, New York City, Mexico, and Europe. Her first published story, "Maria Concepcion," appeared in the prestigious Century magazine in 1922 and was soon followed by "The Martyr," which was about the artist Diego Rivera. Porter's best-known story, "Flowering Judas," was published in 1930 in Hound and Horn; from then on, her reputation as a writer was secure.

Although her settings are often radically different (such as revolutionary Mexico and bohemian New York City), Porter's fiction is characterized by a strong sense of locale, and much of her work explores the tensions faced by women as they negotiate their place in the modern world. Porter's careful attention to planning and revising her work--sometimes over a period of several years--resulted in the publication of only four story collections and one novel, each considered a literary event. Her books of short fiction are Flowering Judas (1930), Noon Wine (1937), Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), and The Leaning Tower (1944). Her novel Ship of Fools was begun in the early 1940s, but Porter developed and revised it for more than twenty years before it was finally published in 1961. The novel was a commercial success and was later made into a popular film. Porter's Collected Stories was published in 1965, bringing her the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Gold Medal for Fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

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