Welcome! This website will acquaint you with Betty Jean Steinshouer's nearly thirty years on the Chautauqua circuit. As she winds down her many years on the road, the aim is to leave audio and written records of each of her characters, as well as her work as a Fellow in Florida Studies at the University of South Florida. After almost twenty years of research and writing on a book about twelve authors (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rose Wilder Lane, Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Rachel Carson) exploring their relationships with the Land of Flowers in Florida Journeys, she took time off from Florida Studies to complete a Cather book, Long Road from Red Cloud, which won Book Fest's International Book Award for Biography in 2020.

After a trip to Missouri in the summer of 2018 to reprise her long-running role of "Willa Cather Speaks" at the George Washington Carver Historic Site, she made one last research trip to Nebraska. During time spent in the reading rooms at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and in Red Cloud, the book she had long hoped to write about Cather finally emerged, from files marked RESTRICTED for decades, due to a 1946 ban on publication or quotation of Willa Cather's correspondence. With thousands of formerly verboten Willa Cather letters in the public domain (as of January 2018), the mystery of"the thing not named" could finally emerge, through family correspondence as well as historic research from three generations of Cather Studies.   Long Road from Red Cloud: Life Lessons from Willa Cather, is now available in audio, ebook, and paperback.


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" combining Willa Cather with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Gertrude Stein), 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 is Long Road from Red Cloud: 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. The projected title of the Chautauqua Companion book on Rawlings is Life Lessons from Cross Creek.

Check back for more of Betty Jean Steinshouer's work . . . 

Long Road from Red Cloud
Betty Jean Steinshouer's award-winning book about Willa Cather, Long Road from Red Cloud..
Willa Cather Speaks
Performed more than 5,000 times in 43 states since1988, "Willa Cather Speaks" is Betty Jean Steinshouer's tour de force Chautauqua performance.
Notes from Cross Creek
The popular one-woman show of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings by Betty Jean Steinshouer has toured widely since 1991. It has toured widely since 1991.