A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mary Virginia Cather [mother]Mar. 2, [1925?]TWU 

What has she done to upset her so? Hasn't sent anything to Bess [prob. Elizabeth Seymour] or Auntie [Sarah Andrews] since she returned to New York. Hasn't written because she knew Douglass was there. Certainly did not mean to cause discord between her and father about the newspaper story about Margie [Argus, October 30, 1924; apparently following a story in one of the city newspapers in Nebraska]. It caused gossip, but isn't angry about it. Hasn't felt really angry toward her since they quarreled about Mrs. Garber. They've been growing closer and mustn't ruin that now. Hopes she and father will let her buy the house so they can pay Elsie to come live with them and look after them.   Willa   [Stout #771]


To E. H. AndersonFeb. 15, 1926NYPL 

Has found someone to do the translations from Swedish she spoke to him about. Did not mind the philatelist in the private working room; has probably finished the research she needed to do.   Willa Cather   [Stout #823]


To Zoë AkinsJan. 2, [1934], from New YorkHuntington 

Thanks for plants she sent for Christmas and for copy of "Little Willie," which is very funny. How did she know about the family nickname? Does not care to see [Maxwell] Anderson's rendition of Mary Stuart [Mary of Scotland, 1933]. Is trying hard to complete work on Lucy Gayheart, but people won't leave her alone. Hates meeting with financial advisors who tell her she is losing money.   W.   [Stout #1209]


To Mrs. Ackroyed [Ackroyd]May 16, 1941UVa 

Enjoyed her letter. Her grandmother, Mary Ann Anderson, a childhood favorite in Virginia. Used to watch out the window for her to come up the road when in bed sick. Saw her again on visit to Virginia after graduating from college. Walked together up the beautiful Hollow Road to her house on Timber Ridge. Mrs. Anderson always took such a keen interest in people's lives. Mrs. Ackroyed's Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Enoch went to Nebraska with the Cather family. He went to California two years later with two other men from Winchester and only wrote once after that, but Marjorie stayed with the family until she died. Remembers hours spent with Marjorie on the back porch or in the kitchen. Is enclosing a recent picture of Willow Shade, now in bad repair, and has circled the window from which she used to watch for Mrs. Anderson. P.S.: The woman who wove their rugs was Mrs. Kearns.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1542]


To Mrs. AckroydDec. 27, 1941UVa 

Treasuring the card and photograph [of Mrs. Anderson], taken when she was older, but recognizes her nonetheless. Yes, remembers her Uncle Snowden clearly. Remembers once when she was about five years old, when she and Marjorie had gone to visit at Mrs. Ackroyd's grandmother's house on Timber Ridge, a heavy rainstorm came up and Snowden rode up on his horse and took her home riding in front of him on his cavalry saddle.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1569]


To H. L. Menckenn.d.Baltimore 

Sending an amusing clipping from one of the Paris newspapers about Americans during Prohibition.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1792]


To Elsie Cather [1923?] fragment, starts on page three; UNL-Rosowski Cather 

. . . Can borrow money but doesn't want to.  Hopes Elsie will watch over things and get father to buy what is needed.  Doesn't want parents to deprive themselves in order to send her money—though he did give a lot to Jack and Jim.  Has warm affection for home, despite occasional irritation.  Will Elsie please show Margie snapshots of Isabelle's French home.  Will visit there soon.  [Cather sailed for France April 1, 1923.]  Margie kept asking to see them—so once again the family will cater to her whims.  The tower shown in the picture is for doves and rabbits.   Willa 


To Charles CatherSeptember 25, [1913], from the train ; UNL-Southwick 

Visited Mary Smith with Isabelle yesterday and brought roses. Though Mary looked bettered and is still sore, she was lively and talkative. She's much older now, but is still herself, and she sends greetings. Saw Walter Gore at the bank. He was civil, but not too friendly; did not invite her to visit his wife a block away. Father will recall that when Aunt Lillian Gore arrived from Europe with silver for Walter and his new wife, she was not treated very cordially, and she left for Washington very angry. Walter is fine: he isn't too concerned with his extended family and doesn't behave otherwise. Enjoyed seeing Jennie Smith, now Mrs. Garvin, in Gore [Virginia]. She's heavy and has hardly any teeth, but manages to seem distinguished nonetheless. She has seen many weddings and funerals, the most recent being Aunt Mary (Liza) Trone, who was a housekeeper for Captain Mure. Saw the old Captain—complete with fine white beard—on horseback as straight as ever. Spent a gorgeous day hiking to Anderson's Cove, seeing the wonderful view there for the first time. Talked with Ellen Anderson near her well-kept house and garden; she was eager to talk, and so serious about her claims to like city living that they dared not smile. Later, Ellen came down on horseback for another visit together. Saw Giles and Dorothy leave for the North River on their ancient boat; they returned dressed for winter, complete with fur cap and veil. They drove a fat, drowsy horse and carried some watermelons. Did not get to eat any before leaving. Giles will be pleased to see the seeds father sent; saw them in the post office. Sends love.   Willie 


To Elsie CatherAugust 30, [1911]UNL-Southwick 

Yes, please come for a visit before going to Northampton. The apartment will not be destroyed too much before the 20th, and the maid will keep her comfortable. Has Margie found the photographs of Willow Shade? She really wants to have one. Where are Grandma [Emily Ann Caroline Smith] Cather's photos? Very pleased that the family likes "The Swedish Mother" [a poem by Cather published first in McClure's 37 (September 1911), p. 541], and that Mary Virginia recognizes the people in it. Let her know that her grandpa will recall the night he left Cather by the mountain field and she saw a bear's nose between the shrubs. Though it looked like a pig nose, it troubled her. Often waited by a hawthorn tree, but did not know what her Swedish character would call a hawthorn. McClure likes it very much and says the poem is being talked about around town. Everyone seems to like the "red-haired" girl. It will be great to see Elsie. Tell Mary the story about saving the girl in the Park from the dog that assaulted her crow. Mary should take her crow over to see Irene, who would like it. Think of it: Elsie will be at 82 in just ten days!  PS: Stand on a chair and give Toby a kiss before leaving.  Willie 


To Elsie CatherSeptember 19, [1923], from Aix-les-Bains, FranceUNL-Southwick 

Those were just typographical mistakes and they got by both her and Edith. Should have read the first printing [of A Lost Lady] for such mistakes, but has not been well and did not suppose it would sell so fast. Did wonder about using the telephone in the novel, but no specific date was given and the events take place over a rather long stretch of time. The final section was meant to be set in 1900 or so, but it could be 1903 or 1904, and telephones were available at that time. Time was tricky in the book, as about fifteen years preceding and following the action had to be dealt with. The actual incidents of the plot took about a decade, but the reader had to feel the alterations brought by about thirty years, so was not too specific. Has Elsie seen the large advertisement in the Atlantic and the kind pieces in the Bee and World-Herald? Judge Vinsonhaler says it is fine for Mary Virginia to make the presentation of the portrait if mother is unwilling. Vinsonhaler is very kind; Shotwell, that friend of Nell McNeny's, is the problem. Bakst had beautiful photographs taken with her in his studio; would Elsie like one? Will send one to Carrie for sure. Risked illness and ventured up to cold Mount Revard, and it was marvelous. The new snow on Mount Blanc made the scene breathtaking. Paris newspapers have been printing glowing pieces on her recently. She stumbled across them by chance and sent to her publisher. Has a secret: the Figaro editor told her that she nearly received the French Legion of Honor for Claude, and would've gotten it if the full committee could read novels in English. Since it will be translated into French soon, the editor believes she will eventually get the honor. All of the French who have read the book seem to be transformed into her publicists. Would enjoy the attention very much if she were only feeling better. No, did not use Margie's knife as an ice-pick, but damaged it cutting soup bones. Is pleased Sambo's alligator is no longer living; the Mathenys have become ridiculous. Recently had word from Isabelle that her Italian cook delivered a stillborn girl and nearly died in the process. Is very saddened, as Bagina and her husband were so excited about the pregnancy. Did not see the interview mentioning Hochstein, as it appeared in the New York Herald when she was home for Christmas, and all the papers were sold out. Wonders how the Hastings paper got it. [The article, entitled "Fiction Recalls Violinist Lost In War: An Interview With Willa Cather," appeared in the New York Herald, 24 December 1922, sec. 8, p. 4, cols. 1-4; p. 12, cols. 3-4. It was reprinted in the Commercial Advertiser, 3 September 1923, p. 2, cols. 1- 4; p. 3, col. 1.]   Willa 


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