A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

19 letters found

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To Edward WagenknechtNov. 22, 1934Beinecke  copy at WCPM

Cannot read his last name. That young man's book about Sarah Orne Jewett is very poor, and manners offensive. Appreciates his telling her the incident about Mary Jewett. Dr. Eastman, Jewett's nephew, kept her posted after Mary Jewett's stroke.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1241]


To the Very Rev. Francis R. Lee [Dean of St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral], n.d. [Nov. 1935?] pub. Hastings [Nebr.] Daily Tribune Dec. 2, 1935, quoted in full in Bohlke

Please convey greetings to Bishop and Mrs. George Beecher on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his consecration as bishop. Wishes she could be there on November 30. He has affected the lives of many people.   [Stout #1277]


To Annie PavelkaMay 19, 1936WCPM 

Has not been well the past few months, but has appreciated her letters. Glad she could get a washing machine with the $55 sent at Christmas, but wants to pay the other $10 it cost. Please call it "Willie's Washer." Always liked Willie better than Willa. Sending a box of clothes, some worn very little, for herself or her daughters.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1318]


To Annie PavelkaApr. 1, 1944WCPM 

Sending a money order with best wishes for Easter. Is it possible she has not yet been able to cash the check sent at Christmas? A bad winter in New York. Has been unable to work for two months because of her hand. Misses her work.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1663]


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 Elsie Cather [January? 1935] UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Expected to hear that Elsie had been struggling with wintry weather, but her letter was tenderly beautiful.  Elsie gave Bess a lovely funeral.  How appropriate to have a Christmas tree as Bess decorated so many for children.  Would have liked to have been there.  Read Elsie's letter repeatedly and then sent it to Virginia, but directed her to return it.  Elsie paid the debt all the Cather siblings owe to Bess.  Wants to pay for the roses and any remaining funeral expenses.  Will ought to have whatever money Bess left.  Life is hard to understand:  deserving people get such small rewards.  Gave Mrs. Lambrecht and Annie [Pavelka?] good holidays and purchased winter feed for Annie's stock.  Sent fifty dollars to Jack, wrote the Bishop and Mollie and Gertrude Coon, and gave nieces ten dollars each.  Is enclosing a historical Christmas card from the Society Library. Happy New Year.   Willie 


To Sister [probably Elsie Cather]August 11, [1923]UNL-Southwick 

Had first session with Léon Bakst yesterday. He pronounces his name like "boxed," but if one insists on making it sound mid-western, it can be pronounced to rhyme with "waxed." Please tell the family to learn how to pronounce it, as his name will be associated with hers often. Bakst's studio is made up of large rooms filled with gorgeous, meticulously arranged objects from Asia and Europe. In those rooms, it seems as if one is in a church dedicated to all the world's religions. Bakst is the kind of person she has always loved—like Annie Sadilek and Joe Pavelik Sr. and other childhood friends. Though he doesn't speak English well, he is trying to read One of Ours using a dictionary. He uses French to speak to her, and has told her fairy tales from Russia. Thankfully, he did not ask her to dress formally and is painting just her head and shoulders. He picked a green shirt she had, reminiscent of a Russian blouse. Sittings remind her of the days listening to Mr. Ducker as he spat tobacco juice, she is such a student to the master. Time will go quickly in those wonderful, scrupulously neat rooms. [Pasted at the top of the second page is a newspaper clipping in French listing results in horse races, including a horse named Red Cloud, with a note written by Cather pointing out that Red Cloud is winning in Paris.]   Willa 


To Norman FoersterJanuary 14, 1931UNL-Cather Collected 

Does not lecture anymore, so must refuse his invitation. Has been meaning to write an extended letter to him about his book, which she read closely. Concurs with him generally, but feels he inflates the importance of many of the New York critics. Only Randolph Bourne and, to a degree, Mr. Canby had the essential innate sense of quality needed by critics. Consider, for example, Stuart Sherman (nothing personal to Sherman, as he always treated her well), who did not have such a sensibility. He could research a writer and say many valid things about him or her, but it was an external product of scholarship. To put it another way: if she mixed up a few pages of Nigger of the Narcissus with some of Joseph Conrad's respectable imitators (like Francis Brett Young), Sherman wouldn't know the difference. A critic must be more than idealistic and hardworking. In fact, a good deal of first-rate criticism was done by non-professional critics like Henry James, Walter Pater, and Prosper Mérimée (particularly his essay on Gogol). Not all good writers are good critics; Turgenev was not. That said, writers are the best at evaluating new writing and composers are the top critics of new music, or at least they are better than scholars. Since she wants to say this and so much more, she knows that his book was successful, as a reader's fierce engagement with a book's ideas is always a mark of accomplishment. P. S.: [dated January 20] After writing letter, was asked not to send it by secretary, who thought it would needlessly offend people. Secretary is now on vacation in Cuba, and has decided to risk sending it. Feels that he won't be indiscreet with the letter, even to his talkative publisher.  Willa Cather 


To Carrie Miner SherwoodNovember 25, 1935WCPM 

Wants to update her on her life lately: just arrived after a rough overseas journey. Edith was quite ill and had to enter a hospital to get a growth on her shoulder removed after they arrived. Thankfully it was benign and she is now on the road to recovery. Has a temporary housekeeper since beloved Josephine returned to France with her family. Her husband is in poor health and wanted to end his days in his native village in the Pyrenees. Josephine, who was with them twenty years, is a wonderful cook, but also one of the great friends of her life. Is glad she is back in her home country, but misses her terribly. Did send a letter to Dean Lee [of St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral] for the anniversary of the Bishop, though he wasn't very polite in his invitation, and might not choose to read it at the dinner. The Dean seems unhappy with both the Bishop and herself. Would like to write a sincere letter to the Bishop, for she respects him tremendously. In both appearance and character, Bishop Beecher is just right. Please share her deep feelings with him, as she is shy about doing it.   Willie 


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