A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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Results 11-20:

To Cyril ClemensNov. 21, [1934], from New YorkWCPM 

Will not be able to go to St. Louis for the dinner. Still loves Huckleberry Finn as much as ever. Medal can safely be sent to her.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1240]


To Chilson LeonardMar. 19, 1936Phil-Ex 

Has no photographs of Nebraska in 1885 or 1895. Understands from Professor Pupin [?] of Columbia that it resembled the plains of Russia. Otto Fuchs not a representation of a specific person but a composite of many, as are most minor characters. Blind d'Arnault modeled on Blind Boone. Has also heard of a similar Blind Tom and Blind Noah. Actress Jim sees in Camille based on Clara Morris. Many relics such as the Spanish sword have been found in southwest Kansas. Good reading does not come from factual information, however, but from cultivated taste. Does not approve of required reading of contemporary writers in English courses, which should center on great English writers of the past and on Latin writers. Wishes his students were reading Kidnapped [ Stevenson ] or Vanity Fair [ Thackeray ] rather than My Ántonia.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1306]


To Ferris GreensletDec. 18, 1936Harvard 

Appreciates his note about the book. Hopes the type in the collected edition will look somewhat like that in the Thistle Edition of Stevenson. Will see him in January if it is after the 12th, as she will be in Washington again with her uncle [probably James Howard Gore, Cather's cousin who was more than twenty years older than her].   Willa Cather   [Stout #1339]


To Ferris GreensletMar. 22, 1938Harvard 

Appreciates the copy of Grey of Fallodon, which she enjoyed reading. Did not like May Sarton's The Single Hound; didn't resemble real people. Very different from The Enemy Gods, which she liked very much. Usually does not care for novels about writers, a genre Robert Louis Stevenson referred to as cannibalism. George Gissing's Grub Street an exception. Doesn't care for very fanciful fiction either, including Walter de la Mare. The fanciful works well in poetry, but not in prose.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1404]


To [Burges] JohnsonJan. 12, 1939Amherst 

Gives permission to quote from anything in Not Under Forty and conditional permission to quote from letter to Pat Knopf explaining reasons for structure of The Professor's House. Prefers the distinct separations of that form to the mixture of unexpressed feelings typical of modern fiction, though it could have been done that way. Outland's life had become as real to the professor as his own; he became part of the old house. Glad Pat is studying with him.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1433]


To Julian StreetDec. 19, 1939Princeton 

Enjoyed his letter about wines. With a proper cellar, would spend more than she could afford at Bellows. If by Château Cantenac-Brown 1926 he meant Château Brane Cantenac, she likes it better than Mouton-Rothschild. Alfred Knopf gave her six bottles of Brane Cantenac 1900 for Christmas last year. In champagnes, finds Perrier-Jouët too dry; prefers a good year of Louis Roederer. Feels sure he will be horrified by this confession. Looks like a hectic Christmas, with many people in town. Has been rereading Guizot's and Michelet's histories of France. Much better reading than the newspapers.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1463]


To E. K. BrownOct. 7, 1946Beinecke 

Reply has been delayed by repairs of apartment. Greatly appreciates his insightful reading of her work and generally agrees with his judgments. Is not writing much nowadays because low in spirits since the deaths of her brothers Douglass and Roscoe. Yes, Death Comes for the Archbishop is her best. It was hard to find a structure to pull together so many disparate elements in the Southwest. It simply came to her one day when watching the sunset color the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that the essence of the early Southwest was the story of the missionaries from France. Devoted herself to research on it from that day. Mary Austin claimed the book was written in her house, and now a woman named Wheelwright claiming it was written in hers. Actually, mostly written in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Has always felt disappointed with O Pioneers!. Tried to put together the Norwegian and the French settlers, and they never mixed. Once, not long after it was published, met Louis Brandeis on the street and he told her that what he most liked about the novel was its sincerity of feeling for the place and people. Said that one of the writers in whom he did not find that sincerity was Edith Wharton. Never saw him again. Probably he didn't find her own next two books sincere either. Kept working and trying to learn. Believes Brown underestimates the early railroad builders; Jim Hill, for example, a person of great imagination and personal quality. Never gave great care to language per se in her books, but tried to let the language come to her that would express feeling for the subject. Is pleased by his praise of My Mortal Enemy. Agrees that Lucy Gayheart isn't very good, except in the last part, after the Gayhearts themselves are dead and the book centers on the effect they have in the businessman's memory. Wishes she'd had a better sense of form earlier in her career.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1741]


To E. K. BrownJan. 24, 1947Beinecke 

Does not yet know plans for spring and summer. Anticipates being in California for part of that time to see two brothers [Jack and James]. Will hope to meet with him when he is in town. Would have many things to talk about—such as the new edition of Shakespeare that cuts out what the editor considers unimportant. Does not want writers like John Dos Passos to be legally stopped from writing as they want, but wishes law would stop editors who tamper with classics. Brandeis's death a great loss to the work of the Supreme Court. Spent many evenings at his home during years in Boston and often saw the Brandeises at the opera. Was introduced to Mrs. James T. Fields by Mrs. Brandeis, who was a fine and intelligent woman in her own right. Life sometimes seems dreary when one thinks about the people who have gone. Remembers William Archer well; remembers being in Lady Gregory's box with him the night the Abbey players made their London debut. Saw Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Archer helped open her mind to new kinds of theatrical drama. Looks forward to discussing their personal values when he comes to New York.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1749]


To ?n.d. note written on a printed page showing pictures of Clement C. Moore and his house, with the beginning of the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas"PM 

Was Moore a real person, then?   [Stout #1815]


To Elsie CatherAugust 31, [1936]UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Appreciated letter, which keeps her connected to Red Cloud.  Worries about the town when reading about weather in Omaha, Kansas City, and Denver in the New York HeraldPauline and Lydia Lambrecht write that all the old settlers are moving out.  Thankful this didn't happen while father was alive.  All the world is troubled—Spain, for instance.  Food prices are causing hardships in Paris, and the Hambourgs having a difficult time.  Even Grand Manan is having poor weather that has aggravated her rheumatic shoulder.  Edith has boils from a black-fly bite.  Both have felt lethargic since the twins left, and she is not working.  Is putting off writing to Carrie, who will have a hard time with Margie's death.  Many difficult things now.  Should have been easier with mother and father, but one must fight hard when young.  Appreciates Elsie's caring for cemetery lot and encloses a check for $25, twenty for the upkeep of the lot and five for the Church Guild.  Much love.    Willie 


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