A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Ferris GreensletDec. 8, [1919], from New YorkHarvard 

Got the books off to White. People from Boni and Liveright and from Collier's and Ladies' Home Journal came to tea and brought copies of the Tribune article by Mrs. Norris. Will send Mary Austin a copy of The Troll Garden if he didn't already. If Austin is bothering to use her big intellect on writing an article, she ought to have everything.   W. S. C.   [Stout #487]


To Elizabeth Moorhead VermorckenOct. 27, [1926], from Jaffrey, N.H.PM 

Appreciates her letter about the new story [ My Mortal Enemy ], which she has been trying to work out for years. Review in the Chicago Tribune gets the point very accurately. Most people say things like, we're all our own worst enemy. Maybe so, but that wasn't the point. Hopes to have some free time this winter. Please call if she is in town. Has had a good time here in Jaffrey, doing some mountain climbing. Likes being away from New York.   W. S. C.   [Stout #855]


To Harvey NewbranchOct. 27, 1929 pub. Omaha World-Herald, quoted in Bohlke.

Regrets the disappearance of local opera houses in small towns of Nebraska. Remembers the excitement when touring companies came to Red Cloud. With her friends, would go watch the train arrive and the theatrical company get off. Is not sorry there are now motion pictures, but wishes they had not brought demise of live performances. Does not believe movies touch emotions of audience as live performances did, though they are fine entertainment.   Willa Cather   [Stout #985]


To Dorothy Canfield Fisher,  n.d. [Jan. or Feb. 1933] UVt 

Would rather Dorothy write an article on her than anyone else [resulting in "Daughter of the Frontier," New York Herald Tribune, May 1933]. Tired of hearing she has sacrificed to art. Has always indulged herself by following likes and avoiding dislikes. Has luxuriated in a great deal of music. Has shut out people in general in order to devote herself to real friends.   Willa   [Stout #1158]


To Dorothy Canfield FisherJune 22, [1933]UVt 

Has received a copy of the Herald Tribune article and sent it to Isabelle. Is grateful Dorothy wrote about her so nicely. Nowadays is happiest if she can forget the past, or at any rate her own place in past scenes. Has always been trying to escape herself and has been happiest when she was best escaping. Where have the years gone? Is happy when she can avoid thinking. Going to Grand Manan next week. Dorothy won't be going to Germany this year, will she?   Willa   [Stout #1186]


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 Bishop George Allen BeecherAug. 15, [1943], from Asticou Inn, Northeast Harbor, Maine; UNL , copy, not original

Saw the tribute to him in the World Herald. Especially enjoyed the photos. Has had a trying summer, with New York heat, but is enjoying the cool weather here. Food scarce. Sorry to write with such a poor pen.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1637]


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 


To Elsie CatherJuly 14, [1934]UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Appreciates Elsie's letter from Hastings and is pleased to learn that Bess does not have cancer. The heat is terrible. Has been hoping to see a cooler, wetter forecast when reading about the Midwest's weather in the [New York] Tribune, but it never comes. Feel pity for all, particularly the elderly. Would say it's punishment for the world's latest ideas and ways if she were a Catholic. Very hot in New York when she was finishing the book [Lucy Gayheart], but didn't really mind thanks to cool mornings and Josephine's good nature and creative housekeeping. The typist [Sarah Bloom?] could not keep the purple ink from running and smearing the manuscripts. Had to send dirty manuscripts to both the magazine [Woman's Home Companion] and Alfred Knopf. Both are thrilled with the book. Sent draft to Jan Hambourg to check musical material and received cable in return declaring the book to be her finest one. Not true, but it has good form. All directed toward the end. Had to put it down for four months when it was going well or it would be even better. Is sending a check now in case Elsie needs something for medical expenses, since getting to Grand Manan will put her out of touch for a while. Virginia cried at news of Bess's illness and has fond memories of her. Paper says that Charles is in Red Cloud. How has the town reacted to Will Auld? Does Elsie ever see the Aulds? Amazed that Bess gave Tom money for school—cannot respect him. Elsie should use part of enclosed money to buy electric fans—was a great relief to have them in the Grosvenor Hotel. Feels guilty going where it's cool, but could not read proofs in the heat of Red Cloud. Fears Elsie thinks her selfish, but the many letters she receives indicate her books serve a purpose for many readers and give others something to gossip about. No matter how strong and charitable she was, she could not do more for people than that. Not that she writes them for that reason, but that is their effect. Integrity is always positive, regardless of the form it takes. With love and sympathy.   Willie 


To Elsie CatherJanuary 14, 1937, with clipping of an article from the New York Herald Tribune entitled "A Great Farewell" ; UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Enclosed editorial represents the New York view on the matter [of the abdication of England's King Edward VIII]. American media created such a stature for the woman [ Wallis Simpson ] that he could not have separated from her even if he wished to. Church officials probably wouldn't have minded if he put "duty" before "happiness," but the public wouldn't have respected him if he did. With such fierce public attention on the relationship, he couldn't really let her go, even though she may seem to be of low character to many. Kings struggle to have any sincere friends, and she seemed like one to him.   W. 


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