Gay Porter Hollaway (1885-1969) was Katherine Anne’s older sister and closest confidante for the duration of her life. Gay married Thomas H. Hollaway in a 1916 double ceremony with Katherine Anne and her first husband, John Koontz. Katherine Anne was also very close to Gay’s two daughters, Mary Alice Hollaway (1912-1919) and Ann Hollaway Heintze (1921-1987) and helped care for Gay after the birth of Gay’s son, Thomas Harry Hollaway (1914-1951).

Katherine Anne dedicated The Days Before (1952) to her beloved older sister. The letters Katherine Anne wrote to Gay provide the most intimate look into her feelings over the longest span of her life. They document her experiences, relationships, struggles, and successes. Their discussions of family matters often reveal Katherine Anne’s contentious attitude toward other family members, further emphasizing the warm regard she held for Gay.

Browse correspondence from Katherine Anne Porter to Gay Porter Hollaway.


“In any other art or way of life I feel like a visitor but in anything that concerns writing, I am on my own territory and nobody can even jostle me... So no matter how it turns out, it was the right and indeed the only thing for me.”

Katherine Anne Porter to Gay Porter Hollaway, 01-10-1942


Katherine Anne Porter (left), Ann Hollaway Heintze (center), and Gay Porter Holloway (right), older sister of Katherine Anne Porter, at wedding reception of Ann and Walter Heintze, New York, New York, April 21, 1950. Katherine Anne Porter Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.