May 15

This Day in History

Literary

May 15, 1890:

Katherine Anne Porter is born

Callie Porter, later known as Katherine Anne Porter, is born in Indian Creek, Texas, on this day in 1890.

Porter grew up in poverty. Before she turned two, her mother died and her father moved in with his mother. Porter's grandmother, Catherine Anne Porter, provided love and support, and Porter later changed her first name to echo her grandmother's.

Her grandmother died in 1901, and Porter was sent to convent school in New Orleans and later attended school in San Antonio. At age 16, she married the 27-year-old son of a rancher, but the marriage was a failure. In 1911, Porter left for Chicago, where she worked as a reporter. She later spent two years traveling around Texas as a ballad singer and in 1918 became a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.

In 1918, Porter became deathly ill. After her recovery, she traveled to Mexico, where she spent most of her time for several years. Her first published work of fiction, the short story "María Concepcíon" (1922), received almost immediate appreciation from critics.

In 1925, she married again but soon divorced. Her collection Flowering Judas and Other Stories (1930) was a critical success and helped her win a Guggenheim Fellowship to support her writing. From 1931 to 1937, she lived in Europe, married and divorced a third time, then married again in 1938. That year, she returned to the U.S. with her fourth husband and settled in Baton Rouge. In the 1940s, she wrote film scripts and lectured at universities. During her lifetime, she published only 25 stories and one novel, Ship of Fools, which took her more than two decades to complete. While her work was not abundant, almost all of it was critically acclaimed. She died in 1980 in Maryland.

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