Willa Cather - The author of O Pioneers!and My Antonia is Betty Jean Steinshouer's alpha and omega. Cather started it all and she will no doubt end it all. She is timeless and inexhaustible - in more than 5,000 performances of "Willa Cather Speaks," each has been unique to the audience and location. Other renditions have been developed for the Florida Center for the Book ("On Hemingway: Three Views"), for the Big Read Project of the National Endowment for the Arts ("The Making of My Antonia"), for the Tampa History Center ("America At War"), and for Humanities Nebraska ("Free? Land: 1862 and the Shaping of Modern America"). Betty Jean Steinshouer also portrayed Willa Cather at the 125th and 150th Nebraska Statehood celebrations in 1992 and 20017. The first Chautauqua Companion Book will be Life Lessons from Willa Cather.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - Also known as Florida's Willa Cather, the people of the Sunshine State clamored for the author of Cross Creek and The Yearling to be added to Betty Jean Steinshouer's repertoire when she did her first tour of Florida in 1989, covering ten cities. In eight out of ten places, Floridians asked, "Please do OUR author next!" Steinshouer promised only that she would stop and read in Rawlings' archive at the University of Florida, and sure enough, it had to be done. The scholar/actress got sand in her shoes and immediately became part of the Speaker's Bureau of the Florida Humanities Council. She has added other authors with a Florida connection over the years, including Laura Ingalls Wiler, Sarah Orne Jewett, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Rawlings is also a popular feature, along with Willa Cather and Gertrude Stein, in "On Hemingway:Three Views," and in "America at War," as well as in special renditions of the author of The Yearling and Cross Creek, holding forth on such subjects as conservation, Florida's rivers, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jim Crow.