A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mariel GereAug. 1, 1893 from Red Cloud, Nebr.WCPM 

Has been lonely since Louise's visit. Tried to bribe James to leave them alone. Spent a few days at uncle's home near other families from Virginia. Aunt hosted a "literary" at which a truly atrocious singer did twelve songs. Climbed the windmill in the evening and enjoyed the sight of moonlight glistening on ponds and corn tassels. Had to pull off skirts to climb down when a storm approached. Roscoe away haying, but when he gets back they will go up the river to their island. Baby brother Jack has been ill. Please greet a certain blonde [Louise?] if she sees her. Drove her about the countryside with one hand or none, but she didn't object. Still dreams about it. Don't read that part to Ned [Ellen] and Frances.    Cather   [Stout #15]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Jan. 5, 1910, from 82 Washington Place, New YorkUNL-Ray 

Wishing her a belated happy New Year. Has been managing the magazine by herself since returning to New York in the fall. Has been unwell, so has had not only little time but little energy. Isabelle McClung with her from early November through Christmas; helped a great deal with shopping and the training of a new maid, so the apartment is now very pleasant. Always feels homesick at Christmas; seems everyone in New York suffers from homesickness then. Last year went to the children's service at Trinity Church on Christmas Eve and people were crying all around her. Probably wishing to be back at some small town. Is glad Jack and Elsie put out holly and evergreens in the cemetery for her at Christmas. Both such nice children. Elsie will be nicer when she gets older and not so sure of herself. Enjoys thinking of Bessie [Elizabeth Seymour] and Auntie [Sarah Andrews, sister of Mary Virginia Cather] being together and less burdened by care. Used to find it so hard not being able to do anything for them. Mother seems in better spirits lately. Is anticipating a Grand Jury investigation as a result of McClure's articles on Tammany and prostitution. Expects to go to London again in a few months but hopes to get back to Nebraska in the summer. Hopes to have as nice a visit as this past summer, when Mother did not seem to begrudge her visiting in the country. Please let her known if Bess and Auntie need anything. Sends love and best wishes.   Willie   [Stout #168]


To S. S. McClureNov. 7, 1910, on McClure's notecard ; Indiana 

Please clarify how far she should go in making arrangements with Miss Jessie Wilcox Smith for pictures.   Willa Sibert Cather   [Stout #186]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Feb. 22, 1911UNL-Ray 

Another busy winter. Elsie made her first visit to New York at Christmas; they had a wonderful time except for worrying about Mother, who'd hurt herself in a fall. Elsie liked the apartment and the colored maid, who has taken over all housekeeping cares. Health is better this winter, though working all summer while Mr. McClure was ill in Europe wore her down. Had some time away to recuperate in the fall. Saw Mr. Wiener a few weeks ago; he is still himself, in spite of having made so much money. Isabelle visiting and sends her greeting. Hears from Howard Gore that he is going to the coronation of the king of Siam, whom he knew years ago. Wishes he wouldn't pursue aristocrats, but vanity seems endemic to Washington. Hears that Bessie and Auntie are well, and that she and Uncle George are too. May have to go to England in April. Hopes to receive a letter from her before going.   Willie   [Stout #188]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]May 16, 1911UNL-Ray 

Has just seen a report of G. P.'s accident in the Red Cloud newspaper. It appears he is out of danger but must be in a lot of pain. Has always been afraid of automobiles, and gasoline seems inherently dangerous. Only a week ago an explosion a couple of blocks away caused several apartment buildings to burn down. G. P. is a very strong young man, but this is a terrible ordeal. Elsie is enjoying Northampton. Hopes to see her next week during a trip to Boston.   Willie   [Stout #194]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Feb. 23, 1913, from no. 5 Bank Street (written in above McClure's letterhead), New YorkUNL-Ray 

Thanks for the letter. Has just finished a new novel, having reduced her work for the magazine by half. Is settling into new apartment, which had to have considerable refurbishing but was worth it, spacious and quiet. Has bought four Persian rugs. The same colored maid as for the past four years is still keeping life in order. Agrees that Alexander is morally flimsy, but goodness in characters does not necessarily make strong fiction. Believes she will like the new novel better. Elsie is enjoying her teaching. Finds that one of the rewards of nearing forty years old is feeling more comfortable with older relatives, who always used to seem rather intimidating. Not so much Aunt Franc and Father as others.   Willie   [Stout #254]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Nov. 17, [1914], from PittsburghUNL-Ray  copy at WCPM

Has been working well. Expects to be in Pittsburgh until Christmas. Jack doing well at school; sees him often. War occupies all conversation. A friend from Belgium, Mme Flahant, is in New York and says her family members in Brussels are starving. The Belgian Relief Committee in London says that only the U.S. can sustain Belgium through the winter. Germans allow no food in that comes through England or France. Will donate to the relief fund instead of sending Christmas presents. America will have to answer to history if it fails Belgium.   Willie   [Stout #289]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]June 16, [1915]UNL-Ray 

Is sending a chain letter for her to pass on to three friends. Is correcting proofs for new book to be published in the fall. Expects to be in Nebraska in September and will come for a visit.   Willie   [Stout #309]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Dec. 25, 1915, from PittsburghUNL-Ray 

Is sending her love on this special day. Since Isabelle McClung has lost her father as well as her mother and this house (which has been almost a home to her [Cather] for fifteen years) is to be sold, it is her last Christmas there. May never feel so secure in any other house. Even her apartment in New York, pleasant as it is, is not a home in the way this was. Has been spending some time with Jack during the school vacation. New book enjoying good sales as well as favorable reviews. Is eager to get to work on a new one.   Willa    [Stout #343]


To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc],  Saturday [pm. July 14, 1917] , from Red Cloud, Nebr.UNL-Ray 

Father so enjoyed listening to Will Andrews's new Victrola that they stayed too late to get by Bladen before going home. It was almost dark when they got back to Red Cloud. Will come to visit next week, before Jack has to leave.   Willie   [Stout #389]


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