Kate Chopin, nee Catherine O"Flaherty, was born "[ ]according to her baptismal certificate, on February 8th1850 [ ]" (Toth 3), in St Louis Missouri. Her birth date has also been cited as February 8th 1851 (Bloom 11) and July 12th 1850 (Skaggs ix). Throughout her life, Kate was surrounded by many strong independent women, who all became her mentors in one way or another. Whether it was the kind, learned nuns she had as teachers, the proud independent widows, friends, and relations of her mother, or the life time friendships she forged with several girls from her early school days, the relationships and emotions she garnered from these women helped lay the foundations for some of American Literature's most colorful and controversial stories. .
In 1870, Kate met and married Oscar Chopin, a Creole New Orleans native. Oscar was a cotton grower, and he and Kate spent the first 9 years of their marriage living and working on his cotton farm. Kate Chopin was, according to Harold Bloom, throughout her marriage "[ ]an exemplary wife" (Bloom 11), and her daughter is quoted later as saying she was ""Lady Bountiful of the neighborhood"" (Bloom 11). By 1879, Kate and Oscar had had five children, all boys, and Oscar's cotton business had begun to fail. He moved his large, young family to Cloutierville Louisiana, where together they managed several plantations and eventually purchased a general store. It was here that Kate's sixth and last child, a girl, was born. (Skaggs 3) .
In 1882 Oscar died of swamp fever, leaving Kate with an extensive debt, and six young children to rear on her own. His sudden death thrust her into the role of business woman, and provider, neither of which she was particularly good at. She was later to draw on her experiences in managing the business as the focus of her first book, At Fault (Dyer xiii). In 1884 Kate decided to move back to St Louis and live with her mother.