Kate Chopin, née O\'Flaherty, was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1850 (cf. Carey, 5ff). The combination of two heritages, Irish on her father\'s side and French on her mother\'s, molded and fashioned her unique character.
Kate Chopin was only four years old when her father died. She then grew up in the company of her mother, grandmother and her great-grandmother. Their strength and independence as well as their ways of entertaining Chopin by telling tales about people and adventures strongly influenced Kate Chopin in her career as a unique woman and writer.
Kate Chopin had the opportunity to indulge in an extraordinary education for a woman of her time, and she finally graduated from the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1868. Soon after her graduation she met Oscar Chopin, a man who was especially fascinated by her individualism. In their marriage she was given an immense amount of personal freedom, which was rather unusual for wives at that time. Oscar and Kate Chopin spent the first nine years of their marriage in New Orleans, and after Oscar\'s business in the cotton industry failed miserably they had to move to Cloutierville, a small village in the Cajun area of Louisiana. Through her life in Louisiana Chopin was introduced to Creole and Cajun culture and society, which had a great impact on her writing. As her stories are mainly set in the Louisiana of Creole culture, she was considered a local color or regional writer for a long time. This reputation is partly responsible for her \'being ignored as one of America\'s finest fictional writers\' (Carey,7). Only after her death, her novels and stories were discovered as important works of feminist literature.
By the age of thirty, Kate Chopin was the mother of six children. When Oscar died in 1882, Chopin ran their plantations. In the secure space of social acceptance as a mother and widow, Kate Chopin had the opportunity to express her views of life, especially as a woman, in her writings. The primary concern of her fiction was \'the celebration of female sexuality, and the tension between erotic desire and the demands of marriage, the family, and a traditional society\' (Martin, 1). She wrote two novels - At Fault in 1890 and The Awakening in 1899 - and almost a hundred short stories, poems, essays, plays and reviews. Kate Chopin was highly acclaimed for her volumes of short stories, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). After the publication of The Awakening, which was considered a scandalous book as it dealt with adultery and sexual desires of married women, there was an outcry of contemporary critics and the novel was widely condemned. Consequently, Chopin\'s third volume of short stories, A Vocation and a Voice, was refused to be published. As an answer to the scathing criticism and the banning of The Awakening from libraries, Kate Chopin even wrote a note of apology in a local paper. (cf. Carey, 7). It was a satiric and mocking apology, which did not express Chopin\'s true disappointment over the negative reactions, and the attacks from reviewers towards her and the novel did not come to an end. Chopin, though she never regretted having written The Awakening, felt that her career as a writer had no further future, and she had only two more stories published afterwards. She devoted the rest of her life to her family until she died on August 22, 1904.