Double Birthday

Double Birthday is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published in The Forum in February 1929.[1]

Plot introduction

Albert is organizing a birthday party for his uncle soon.

Explanation of the title

Although the birthday party is for Uncle Albert, it is also Albert's birthday.

Plot summary

In Pittsburgh, Judge Hammersley runs into Albert, who says it is soon to be his uncle's birthday; the judge says he should come round to his house before, so he can give him some alcohol. Back home, he tells his daughter he has run into him; she goes off to a ball. Meanwhile, the two Alberts are playing classical music and reading decadent literature.

In an analepsis, the reader gets an account of Uncle Albert when he was working as a throat doctor in Allegheny. He once came upon a singer whom he wanted to bring to New York City, since he believed her to be very talented. However, after graduation, she eloped to Chicago, but eventually came back and was fairly successful until she came down with a throat disease, which proved fatal.

Albert goes to Judge Hammersley's to get the alcohol. He is greeted by Margaret, and they talk about the time they spent in Rome when they were younger. Her father gives him two bottles of champagne. Later, Margaret comes to the birthday party and Albert tells her about the last time he saw their former music teacher, Rafael Joseffy, noting that he was sick. Finally, they toast to Lenore, the singer Uncle Albert had brought to success in New York.


Allusions to actual history

Allusions to other works


  1. Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction, 1915-29, University of Nebraska Press; December 1973, page 63
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