A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Carrie Miner SherwoodMar. 22, 1941WCPM 

Keeps thinking about her and wishes she could write a real letter, by hand. Was saddened by Mary's telegram telling of Walter's [Carrie's husband's] death, but had heard how ill he was. Also heard how beautifully she was taking care of him. Remembers first seeing his picture in her watch case when she was going away to school at St. Mary's. Has spent a great deal of time alone this winter enjoying precious memories like that. Sees very few people besides Mary Virginia and Yehudi Menuhin and wife. Will write again soon. Hand is improving since going to Dr. Ober, a surgeon from Boston. Enjoys remembering evenings she spent with Carrie and Walter ten years ago, when they both gave her good advice.   Willie   [Stout #1534]


To Carrie Miner Sherwood,  n.d. [Mar. 5, 1943?] WCPM 

Sending some money for the Webster County Red Cross. Feeling better again. Yehudi and Nola and their two children live nearby, and they add to her life.   Willie   [Stout #1618]


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 Zoë Akins,  Tuesday January 23?, 1945Huntington 

Thanks for the beautiful camellias. Together with the cyclamen and a cyclamen from Nola and an orange tree from Yehudi, it has made her a private tropics in spite of winter outside. More snow last night. Hand still bad. Removes the brace two hours a day to work on a story that interests her greatly.   Willa   [Stout #1688]


To Carrie Miner SherwoodApr. 29, [1945]WCPM  [Note: handwriting very irregular and scrawling.]

Glad she used her time during Easter storm to write a letter. Is still having trouble with hand. Used brace almost all the time for four months starting a little before Christmas. Can't dictate her work, only letters. Is very interested in everything Carrie writes about grandchildren. Used Tony Luhan's last name (which he took because his Indian name would be too difficult for white people) for the owner of the mules in Archbishop but changed the spelling so it wouldn't be obvious. Of course, he didn't have the mules as in the book. Personally knew of a pair of white mules owned by Mexicans. Is she really overseeing all five farms, besides maintaining Red Cross work? Would very much like to come to Red Cloud, but has been emotionally weak ever since her operation. Still able to write, as evidenced by work on a new story last summer that she greatly enjoyed. With any emotional excitement has physical symptoms, can't sleep, and cries uncontrollably. Is letting Mariel Gere know she will not be coming for the fiftieth class anniversary. Excitement would be too much. Has had a happy winter, though shortage of domestic help makes life difficult. Enjoys having Helen Louise nearby and enjoys the visits of Yehudi Menuhin and his wife.   Willie   [Stout #1704]


To E. K. BrownMar. 23, 1947Beinecke 

Will let him know her plans as soon as they are made. Hephzibah Menuhin, her husband, and their two little boys were there to see her yesterday morning. Yehudi and his family arrived soon afterward. Visited happily until 11:30, then rose and quietly got the children into their wraps, went down on the elevator, and took cabs to the North River docks for lunch before sailing on the Queen Elizabeth at one o'clock. They never seem to get into a flurry. Yehudi and Hephzibah to give concerts in London and other cities in Europe. Have been a joy to her for sixteen years. Are people with beautiful natures. Still feels their presence in her rooms.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1755]


To Elsie CatherDecember 20, 1939UNL-Rosowski Cather 

How nice it must be that Helen Louise is in Lincoln.  As Josephine used to remark when the Menuhin children were coming to the apartment, children are pleasant to have around.  Has heard about Carrie's golden wedding anniversary, especially from Annie Pavelka, who enumerated the cakes, flowers, and guests. Good of the Miners to invite people from the neighboring farms.  Wishes she could have attended.  Hopes Elsie and Helen Louise will plan something fun for Christmas.  Yehudi and his wife gave her happiness on her birthday by bringing their baby, nearly three months old, to visit.  Likes Nola; Scotch but born in Australia.  Admires the honest, forthright Scotch.  Yehudi has been flattered so much that he needs someone who is plainspoken.  She and Edith will think about Elsie on Christmas Eve, and she will remember her last Christmas in Red Cloud. P.S.  Enclosing letter to Helen Louise for forwarding.  Willie 


To Mary Virginia CatherJune 7, [1928] from the Grosvenor Hotel, New York CityUNL-Southwick 

Is not angry, just tired from the flu and impatient with all the requests made of her. Is refusing the requests, but even writing decorous rejections is burdensome. Getting the honorary degree from Columbia University was wonderful. Was the sole woman among six aging men, and sat in cap and gown next to the French Ambassador [Paul Claudel?]and the University of California's president [ William Wallace Campbell ]. Edith says that the crowd cheered for her most, and they did. Was applauded when the President [ Nicholas Murray Butler ] called her name and again after two Deans put a beautiful collar on her; the others only got applause after they received their degrees. The Cuban, de Bustamante, was also well-liked. After the ceremony, she went to a supper party hosted by President Butler and spoke with many dignitaries from the university and beyond. It was pleasant, but tiring. She should have invited Mary Virginia along. Is mailing the Columbia collar [hood], along with the Michigan one, to Carrie Sherwood for storage. Hasn't the room to store them, and Carrie has a special place. Hopes mother likes the beads, even if family does usually question her [i.e., Cather's] judgment in such matters. Is planning to go to Grand Manan soon. PS: The traveling done by the men receiving degrees tells one how important they think it is.  Willie 


To Mary Virginia Cather [December 15, 1928?] , from the Grosvenor Hotel, New York CityUNL-Southwick 

Guess what? Has been putting together a Christmas box for her, including a gift for Mrs. Bates. Is not typing this, for the racket would bother Edith Lewis, who is in bed after dislocating her knee. Has heard that Isabelle fell and broke her shoulder—Jan says she is in great pain. It is hard to concentrate on work when all her friends are hurting. Mary Virginia is doing well, however. Sent her some roast beef, vegetables, and mushrooms, as she is having a dinner party. Went to Columbia University President Butler's dinner party last week and met many notable people, including the Governor of Virginia [Harry Flood Byrd?] and his wife. Also spent a day at Knopfs' country house. Hopes she waits to open her gifts at Christmas. Please ask Douglass to write.   Willie 


To Roscoe Cather May 23, 1938UNL-Roscoe 

Has been busy, so hasn't written to the lonely Margaret as intended. Went to Virginia with Edith to ease struggle with bronchitis, and when she returned had many messages from the Menuhins. Last week Edith was injured in a car accident and has been bedridden since. Her lip will have a significant scar, but not as disfiguring as initially thought. Met Sidney Ehrman when she received an honorary doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley. He was President of the Board of Regents then, and they sat together at the alumni dinner. Though Yehudi's name didn't come up on that occasion, he and his father soon came to California and stayed with Mr. Ehrman. Saw them while there. Mr. Ehrman supported the Menuhins financially when they had very little, and he knows music himself. Mr. Ehrman committed to support Yehudi when the boy was only six years old, and he sent the family to France for Yehudi's education when he was ten. Though the Menuhins repaid the money some time back, they still feel indebted to Mr. Ehrman. He was a stalwart supporter for four years and really started Yehudi on his professional path. Though many praised Yehudi, Mr. Ehrman was the only one to back it up with his money. As to the current circumstances, was glad to get Roscoe's letter. Is consoled that Mr. Ehrman shares her opinion of these marriages; he knows them as well as anybody. Is particularly worried about the girls. Hepzibah and Yaltah write friendly, open-hearted letters, but they don't seem to understand the situation! They write as if getting married were like an exciting excursion. What does it mean? Is not as concerned about Yehudi, however. Even if his fiancée is the wrong woman, he won't be too affected. He is, at his core, pure music. Even if he could not play, the music would be with him always as a consolation. Music is within him the way great scenes from Shakespeare are within her: she feels every line as potently as if she recited it out loud. Yehudi thinks profoundly, though he doesn't show it off. She knew him for three years but did not understand the depth of his mind until they formed their Shakespeare Club. But he thinks about the world in the best way: he takes pleasure in small things. Naturally, Roscoe must keep these thoughts to himself. The newspapers love the Menuhins more than anybody, save the Lindberghs, and she worries that if she utters a word about them, she will read about it in the New York Times. Will write to Margaret soon. Hopes she doesn't marry before they can travel together. All of her young friends are leaving her!   Willie. 


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