She was the third of five children, but all of her siblings died before the age of 25. When she was five years old, her father died in a train accident. He was a prominent member of the community and was riding in the first train across a newly built bridge, when it collapsed. She was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, all of whom were widows. After a few years as a society belle, she married Oscar Chopin in 1870, the son of a wealthy cotton farmer in Louisiana. They had much in common including the ability to speak French and a casual disregard of their Catholic upbringings. They had their honeymoon in Europe where Kate emancipated herself through such "unwomanly" activities like smoking and drinking beer in public. For several years they lived in New Orleans and vacationed on the Grand Isle like the characters in The Awakening. By 1879, she had given birth to 6 children. In that year, after years of failure in business, Oscar moved the family to his old home in a small town in Northwest, Louisiana. He died in 1882, leaving Kate behind to run the store and plantation as well as raise the children. In 1884, she moved back to St. Louis and her mother, who soon after passed away.
It was then that she began to write professionally. Her first story, "Wiser than God" was published in 1889. In the years following, she found a good deal of success publishing in national periodicals. She soon published two collections of short stories, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Her first novel was entitled At Fault (1890). The publication of The Awakening (1899) met with a good deal of controversy and negative reviews because of its anti-traditional depictions of female sexuality. After the reaction to her novel, Chopin wrote only a few more stories. Soon after, her health began to fail and she died on August 22, 1904 after having suffering a brain hemorrhage two days earlier.