Willa Cather Pueblo
© Author Adventures

Willa Cather’s Ultimate New Mexico Book

Willa Cather’s book, Death Comes to the Archbishop, is set in New Mexico. I carried a tired-looking 1927 edition of the masterpiece during my New Mexico travels, and the book attracted conversations everywhere I went. Readers, scholars and natives will tell you that the book is a great tool for understanding the history of parts of New Mexico and its bordering towns, up to Colorado. The pace of the writing is relaxed, like the desert sun, so it can be good company on a long trip.

In 2007, The New York Times published an excellent article, entitled Entering the World of Willa Cather’s Archbishop, about the book’s connection to three pueblos in the area, beginning with Laguna Pueblo, right on Route 66. However, we chose to visit Isleta Pueblo because it was in more convenient proximity to Albuquerque, where we had just visited the Ernie Pyle Library. Read about the Ernie Pyle Library here: Ernie Pyle Library in New Mexico.

Once inside the pueblo grounds, photography is not allowed so we stored our cameras away as soon as we passed the entrance sign. Even if you are on the pueblo site and see no signs that prohibit photography, New Mexico residents will advise against photography of pueblos as a sign of respect. The Isleta Pueblo has a population of approximately 58,000.

You can also get a strong sense of the presence of Willa Cather at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, known to the locals as the Witter Bynner house, because she stayed there and still has a room named for her.

(Below is our photo of a rainbow that greeted us as we parted the airport in Albuquerque en route to the Ernie Pyle Library.)

More about Willa Cather

Read more about Willa Cather (1873-1947) here: britannica.com.

new mex rainbow
Southern New Mexico double-rainbow ©Author Adventures

Read more about Willa Cather on our Nebraska page.

Laguna Pueblo is the first stop on our New Mexico Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart