A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

22 letters found

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To Laura HillsSept. 23, 1943PM 

Sorry to have to send her a typed letter. Had a wet summer in Maine. Left the New York heat in June for Portland, which she remembered as being very pleasant, but with all the shipbuilding going on it is miserable. So they went to the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, which was cool but rainy. Bar Harbor is practically deserted. Hitler has ruined the New World as well as Europe. Is looking forward to a visit from her niece in October and Yehudi and Nola Menuhin with their two children after that. Will share a letter from them about their recent tour of South America. Yehudi has been to England to entertain soldiers, went over on bomber.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1639]


To Elizabeth Shepley SergeantDec. 31, 1943PM 

Hand is in brace again, so can't write. Many things have kept her distracted. Nieces in town looking for places to live while husbands in the military—one of them with a baby; no maid when they got back from Maine; five books out in military editions and a consequent flood of letters from soldiers. Tried to send Christmas notes for the first time in several years, and strain on hand put it back into brace. Feels worried about her since the cold weather set in. Hopes she is in town. Is still eighteen pounds underweight and feels the cold. Is cranky toward her friends sometimes and doesn't deserve the favor of a real letter, but please just drop a note.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1653]


To Ferris GreensletJan. 24, 1945Harvard 

Won't sign an agreement with a Spanish publisher now. Was ill with influenza two weeks, and hand causing trouble. Takes it out of brace two hours a day to write on a story in which she is very interested. Christmas was over eventful, so many letters from soldiers that they became emotionally wearing.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1693]


To Mrs. George WhicherJan. 31, 1945PM 

Was glad to hear from her at Christmas. Appreciates old friends' remembrances. Yes, it was reasonable for her to quit her job. Most people's jobs are wrecked now anyway. Spends much of her time and energy writing to soldiers in foxholes who have written to her after seeing one of the Armed Forces editions. Spent the summer at Northeast Harbor, Maine, enjoying a little work. Still has occasional problems with right hand. It is tied up in Dr. Ober's brace again now, so can't write by hand.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1696]


To Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant,  Monday, Feb. 5, [1945?]UVa 

Where is she? How is she? Worries about her during such cold weather. Hand is bad, and has many letters to write to soldiers who have read her books in Armed Forces Editions. Little time for personal letters. Please write.   W. S. C.   [Stout #1698]


To Stephen TennantFeb. 16, 1945Yongue 

Sorry not to have written in so long. Had many irritations during the Christmas season—numerous letters from soldiers to answer, hand very bad. Enough to make her quite misanthropic for a while. The company of Yehudi and his family cheered her up. Still can't write by hand. No need to quarrel because of differing views re. talking about books, as opposed to writing them. Finds the book he sent her at Christmas, The Unquiet Grave, excessively jaded. The frequent short quotations from Flaubert entirely misrepresent him. He was hearty and hardworking, never bored (though sometimes boring when he insists on putting in every detail).   Willa Cather   [Stout #1699]


To Lizzie [Huffmann?]June 14, 1945WCPM 

Writes many letters to soldiers as a result of the Armed Forces Editions, but has meant to write to her for some time. Wonders if her son Richard is in the Army. Hasn't been very strong since the gall bladder operation. Often thinks how kind she was to her [Cather's] parents.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1711]


To Dorothy Canfield FisherJan. 3, [1947?]UVt 

Was happy to receive her greeting on Christmas morning. No, can't remember translating [Heinrich] Heine's "Three Kings," but finds it amusing to think of having translated from a language in which she didn't know a bit of grammar. Very like her to have done so! Is happy and busy.   Willa   [Stout #1747]


To Marine LelandJanuary 31, 1942Smith 

Is compelled by Leland's letter and believes that North America is home to a French language and literature, despite what most American tourists think. It is difficult to understand the French of rural areas, for they seem to leave out syllables in the same way southern Americans do. Loves the French of urban Canadians; it is charming and antique. President Thomas Masaryk wrote after reading Shadows on the Rock that he overheard Canadian soldiers speaking an antiquated French in London during the World War. Masaryk, who studied Old French, could detect patterns in the language that appeared to be from the time of Louis XIV and XV. Appreciates hearing about the new division of the Modern Language Association, and sends her good wishes. P.S.: Please keep Masaryk's story private. He is dead and cannot grant permission to quote from a letter.  Willa Cather 


To Robert FrostJanuary 20, [1916], from 1180 Murray Hill Avenue, PittsburghDartmouth 

Wishes she could be in New York for the Poetry Society banquet, but cannot. Regrets missing the opportunity to meet him and Mrs. [Elinor Miriam White] Frost. Wonders if he ever chanced to meet Miss Jewett. Has often thought, if she had lived to see them, that Frost's books would have been a great encouragement to her in a world full of poets like Witter Bynner and Phoebe Snow. Unfortunately, Frost's fellows in the Poetry Society are so wound up in the ideal of "free verse" that they can't distinguish a line by him from one published in a rural newspaper. They don't even know enough to dislike Florence Earle Coates or Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Many of the so-called "poets" seem to be so just to make Miss Rittenhouse happy. Thankfully, the success of junk only damages things in the short term. Fears that if she ever attended a meeting of the Poetry Society she would be unable to suppress her opinions, and begs Frost to keep them private. Since poetry needs publicity as much as anything else, perhaps the Rittenhouse crowd will actually help Frost somewhat. Anyhow, more subtle methods can still succeed. Has shown many of his poems to others, including "The Mountain," "Mowing," "Going for Water," and "The Tuft of Flowers," and no one needs to have them explained, nor has anyone's sensibility been altered because, in Mr. Masters's words, "the hammock fell/ Into [sic] the dust with Milton's poems [sic]" [from Masters's poem "Many Soldiers" in Spoon River Anthology]. Not everyone believes that is symbolic!   Willa S. Cather 


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