She was born, as she liked to tell people, Katherine Anne Maria Veronica Callista Russell Porter, in a log cabin in Indian Creek, Texas. She said her ancestors included Daniel Boone, and she claimed as distinguished relatives both Cole Porter and O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). Often giving the year of her birth as 1894, “the latest possible date on which I could possibly have been born,” she told Enrique Hank Lopez in Conversations with Katherine Anne Porter (1981) that her mother died six weeks after her birth, from complications following the delivery. She let on that she was raised a Catholic, that she had eloped as a young girl from a convent in San Antonio—sometimes she said New Orleans—to marry a rich older man.

A captivating story of one writer’s beginnings, one might think, and wonderful material for biographers; yet scarcely a word of it is true. In fact...


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