Porter, Katherine Anne

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Porter, Katherine Anne,

1890–1980, American author, b. Indian Creek, Tex., as Callie Russell Porter. Although she published infrequently, she is regarded as a master of the short story. Her first book of stories, Flowering Judas (1930), received immediate recognition and critical acclaim. It was followed by Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), which includes the superb novella Noon Wine, and The Leaning Tower (1944). Her stories have been praised for their technical accomplishments in matters of style, form, and language. A collection of her essays and occasional pieces appeared as The Days Before (1952). Her only long novel, the best-selling Ship of Fools, was published in 1962 and made into a film three years later. Set aboard a German ship shortly before Hitler's accession to power, the novel is a moral allegory that attempts to recreate the atmosphere of a world on the brink of disaster.


See her Collected Stories (1965; Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award), Katherine Anne Porter: Collected Stories and Other Writings (2008), ed. by D. H. Unrue; I. Bayley, ed., Letters of Katherine Anne Porter (1990); J. Givner, ed., Katherine Anne Porter: Conversations (1987); biographies by J. Givner (1984) and D. H. Unrue (2005); studies by R. Penn Warren (1971), H. Bloom (1986), G. and W. Hendrick (1988), R. H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. (1993), J. P. Stout (1995), D. H. Unrue (1985, 1988, and as ed. 1997), and M. Titus (2005); bibliography by K. Hill (1989).

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Porter, Katherine Anne

(1890–1980) writer; born in Indian Creek, Texas. After being schooled mainly at home, she worked as a journalist in Denver, Colo., and Chicago. She would later elaborate on and exaggerate certain aspects of her life but she does seem to have lived in Mexico and in Europe for some years and would marry three times. Her first collection of short stories, Flowering Judas, and Other Stories (1930), gained her considerable acclaim, and for many years she was admired entirely for short stories and novellas, often drawing on Roman Catholic symbolism from her past while expressing her liberal views on present society. With her best works somewhat relegated to schools as minor classics, she astonished the literary world with the publication of her only novel, Ship of Fools (1962), a rather bitter and ironic view of humanity. This gained her a final round of appreciation as her Collected Stories (1965) won both the Pulitzer and National Book Award, and she fired a parting shot with her critical account of the Sacco-Vanzetti trial and execution, The Never-Ending Wrong (1977).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.