Kate Chopin best know for her short stories, published in contemporary popular magazines, won her fame as a local colorist with a good ear for dialect and as a writer concerned with women's issues (sexuality, equality, independence). At the height of her fame, she also wrote and published two novels "At Fault" (1890) and "The Awakening" (1899). Perhaps her best-known essay today is "The Story of An Hour" written in 1894.
Kate Chopin was born Katherine O"Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. Her background was a mixture of Creole, descended from French settlers, and Irish immigrants. She was well educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis and graduated 1868, following her father's accidental death. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin, and the new couple moved to Louisiana, which became the setting for many of her short stories. In New Orleans, she brings to life the Louisiana setting, and the personalities of her characters, which are usually Creoles or Cajuns. Her themes center around the social, emotional, and sexual roles of women within those societies. .
Chopin's earliest story "Wiser Than a God" focuses on her desire for female independence. In the story the main character, Paula Von Stoltz, who is a successful pianist, reject an offer of marriage to pursue her passion in life, music. In 1882, Chopin's husband, Oscar, dies from swamp fever. She returns to her home in St. Louis where she continues to write in support of female independence and out of need for financial stability. In 1884, the same feminist theme can be seen in her other stories such as "The Story of an Hour", written in 1894. In this story the main character, Mrs. Mallard discovers her happiness and freedom when she learns of her husband's accidental death. However the story ends with an ironic twist when she discovers that her husband had not been killed in an accident, she instead drops to her own death from "the joy that kills.