Kate Chopin (/ˈʃoʊpæn/, also US: /ʃoʊˈpæn, ˈʃoʊpən/; born Katherine O’Flaherty; February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904) was an American author of short stories and novels based in Louisiana. She is now considered by some scholars to have been a forerunner of American 20th-century feminist authors of Southern or Catholic background, such as Zelda Fitzgerald, and is one of the most frequently read and recognized writers of Louisiana Creole heritage.
Of maternal French and paternal Irish descent, Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She married and moved with her husband to New Orleans. They later lived in the country in Cloutierville, Louisiana. From 1892 to 1895, Chopin wrote short stories for both children and adults that were published in such national magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, The Century Magazine, and The Youth’s Companion. Her stories aroused controversy because of her subjects and her approach; they were condemned as immoral by some critics.
Her major works were two short story collections: Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Her important short stories included “Désirée’s Baby” (1893), a tale of miscegenation in antebellum Louisiana, “The Story of an Hour” (1894), and “The Storm” (1898). “The Storm” is a sequel to “At the Cadian Ball,” which appeared in her first collection of short stories, Bayou Folk.
Chopin also wrote two novels: At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899), which are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle, respectively. The characters in her stories are usually residents of Louisiana, and many are Creoles of various ethnic or racial backgrounds. Many of her works are set in Natchitoches in north-central Louisiana, a region where she lived.
Within a decade of her death, Chopin was widely recognized as one of the leading writers of her time. In 1915, Fred Lewis Pattee wrote, “some of [Chopin’s] work is equal to the best that has been produced in France or even in America. [She displayed] what may be described as a native aptitude for narration amounting almost to genius.”