Katherine Anne Porter was the professional name of Callie Russell Porter, born in Indian Creek, Texas, on May 15, 1890. Callie’s mother died when she was two, and her grandmother, Catherine Anne Porter, took the children to her home in Kyle until she, too, passed away in 1901. Callie was then sent to the Thomas School, a private school for girls in San Antonio where she excelled in drama, singing, speaking, and dance. Forced to drop out after just a short time, she supported herself and her father by giving private lessons from their rented room in Victoria. Already self-sufficient, self-supporting, and pretty much self-raised, Callie married shortly after her sixteenth birthday. That marriage lasted 9 years. The three marriages that followed ended even more quickly and sadly. Such a rough beginning in life took a physical and emotional toll on the young woman.
In 1917, she battled tuberculosis, and in 1918 she nearly died of influenza, but still she worked doggedly as an actress, a singer, a secretary, and finally as a society columnist for the Fort Worth Critic. In 1920 she moved to New York, working as a journalist and freelance writer while pursuing a career in fiction. She published several collections of short stories–Flowering Judas (1930), Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939), and The Leaning Tower and Other Stories (1944)–before completing her first and only novel, Ship of Fools (1962). One review of her work says, “A perfectionist concerned with controlling every word of her stories, Porter gained a name for her flawless prose. Often concerned with the themes of justice, betrayal, and the unforgiving nature of the human race, Porter’s writings occupied the space where the personal and political meet.” Katherine Anne Porter won a Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Stories in 1966.