Willa Cather residence
1180 Murray Hill Avenue (private)
Although we generally associate her with Nebraska, where she grew up, novelist Willa Cather (1873-1947) lived in Pittsburgh from 1896 to 1906, during which time she worked as managing editor of the women’s magazine, Home Monthly, and then as drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader; she also did a stint as a high school English teacher. In 1899, she met and fell in love with Isabelle McClung, a young socialite and patron of the arts, whose father was a prominent judge. McClung invited Cather to move from her South Craig Street boarding house and live with her and her wealthy family in their mansion in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The two young women shared a bedroom at the back of the 13-room house, and took an extended tour of Europe together in 1902.
At a social occasion at the McClungs’ house, Cather met the publisher of McClure’s Magazine, who offered her an editor’s job in New York. She moved to Manhattan and found a life partner in Edith Lewis, but stayed in close contact with McClung throughout her life; the pair even took vacations together until McClung married a man in 1915. There are no surviving letters between them, as Cather destroyed all her correspondence.