A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mrs. Helen StowellMay 31, 1889 from Red Cloud, Nebr.WCPM 

Won Latin prize at end of school year. Grades of 90 in rhetoric, 95 in Latin, and 100s in physics, astronomy, and ancient history. Teacher wrote a message in report card praising her literary interests. Has fixed up a room at father's office as a library. Is reading the Latin Bible, astronomy, geology, history, Homer, Milton, Swinburne, Ouida, and George Sand. Sister Jessie in school musicale yesterday. Mother, Mrs. Wiener, Mrs. Garber, and husbands [Charles F. Cather, Charles F. Wiener, and Silas Garber] had a picnic. Longs to go to Europe. Mary Miner doing well at piano. P.S.: As usual, Cather house is a gathering place for young people to flirt.  William Cather, Jr.   [Stout #2]


To Mrs. Helen StowellAug. 28, 1889 from Red Cloud, Nebr. on father's letterhead ; WCPM 

Has been studying Greek and reading Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens. Brothers Roscoe and Douglass competed in the Firemen's State Tournament. Is serving as a reporter for the Republican, edited by Dr. McKeeby. Has been to picnics in the Garbers' grove. Local couple flirting ridiculously. Jessie, Roscoe, and Douglass singing in cantata. Is going to baseball game in Superior, Nebraska, with Mary and Hugh Miner. Is going to dance at platform in the Garbers' grove tonight.   Willa Cather   [Stout #3]


To Mariel Gere,  n.d. [Sept. 30, 1905?] WCPM 

Appreciated her long letter. Missed Mr. Gere during her visit to Lincoln. Spent a week in Cheyenne with Douglass and a week camping in the Black Hills with Roscoe, then four weeks in Red Cloud helping her father around the new house. Jessie expecting a baby. Mrs. Garber still charming but sad from missing Mr. Garber, though he was a care. Wishes she could live in the West. Getting settled into school work again. Love to Mrs. Gere and to Ellen and Frances, and greetings to the Joneses and others.    Willa   [Stout #107]


To Jessie Cather AuldDec. 17, 1908, on McClure's letterhead ; TWU 

Is sending a present for Peter Rabbit. Don't open until Christmas! Will send books for Mary Virginia as soon as she and Miss Lewis (with whom she is partners in housekeeping) have read them. Found these nice children's books from England in a local book shop.   Willie   [Stout #144]


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. William [Jessie Cather] AuldDec. 18, [1911], from Cherry Valley, N.Y.UNL 

Sorry not to be sending Christmas gifts to the children. Has only some little handkerchiefs for Mary Virginia. Nothing to buy here. Hears from mother that the new baby is pretty.   Willie   [Stout #210]


To Jessie B. Rittenhouse,  Tuesday, [1913?] Newberry 

Has made several changes in the poem [ "Grandmither, Think Not I Forget" ].[Reprinted in The Little Book of Modern Verse, 1913, ed. Rittenhouse.]   Willa Sibert Cather   [Stout #253]


To Glendinning Keeble,  n.d. [prob. between May 15, 1915, and July 19, 1915] CMU 

Is offering a revision of the character of Jessie Darcey [singer Thea Kronborg accompanies in The Song of the Lark] and will be glad to revise more. Thea has control over her own fortune; was a liar and was lied to. She expected to marry Fred, despite the fact that her Methodist childhood would not have led her to expect it. She ended up punishing Fred for what she did herself. Won't make all this entirely clear, because doesn't want character of Thea to alienate readers. Isabelle is going away for a few days to rest.   [Stout #305]


To Carrie Miner SherwoodNov. 16, [1924?]WCPM 

Appreciates her kindness to mother and to Margie. Loved Margie with the special love one reserves for children or those whose minds never grow up. Enjoyed cooking for her and caring for her a little when she went home. They understood each other. Is fairly well; writing on The Professor's House, which should be out next fall. Funny to think of Jessie going around with the movie people on A Lost Lady!   Willie   [Stout #754]


To Elsie CatherAugust 30, [1933], from Grand MananUNL-Rosowski Cather 

Thinks Elsie has gotten a lot done this summer. Appreciates her asking about the small house, but will be visiting not working when in Red Cloud.  Sorry Elsie had to deal with the Auld problems.  They made their own mess, and they will have to deal with it themselves.  Jess should have saved the money she got from Bess, and she needs to learn that people must earn their money by working.  Tom, Charles, and Virginia should support Jessica, not her siblings.  Urges Elsie to consult Howard Foe about the note given to Bess.  If Tom is that kind of person, it's best that they're aware of it.  Jim [James Cather, brother?] would not have done that.  All this has kept her awake—as it did Elsie; dishonor like this shows how important honor is.  Please buy Bess a new coat and send the bill, and write if she needs expense money for house maintenance.  August 30 is anniversary of their mother's death.  Thinks she is beginning to understand mother, and thinks shortly before her stroke mother began to understand herself.  Mother gave her some old pictures to keep, but the "sweet sixteen" photograph Elsie wanted not among them.  Thinks Jessie probably took it.  Attempting to stay focused on work and resist interruptions.   Willie 


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