Bibliography of Willa Cather's Reading

This bibliography was created by Sharon Hoover and Melissa Ryan. They know that the existing work, though large, is incomplete, and they invite interested scholars, readers, and students to submit new works to the bibliography. To do so, please contact the editor of the Willa Cather Archive at . Any resource that attempts to be comprehensive depends upon a community of scholars, readers, and other interested parties.

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Total Number of Entries in Reading Bibliography: 1056

    Shakespeare, William

  1. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Sonnet 68
    Date: 1609
    Genre: poetry
    Note Relating to Cather: Cather writes that actor Nat Goodwin "has said a long and sad farewell to forty, and his 'cheek is but the map of days outworn' at that"; the first line of "Sonnet 68" reads "Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn."
    Note Source: Courier 1/21/1899


  2. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title:  Julius Caesar
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "A Death in the Desert," Katharine Gaylord's last words are the words of the dying Brutus: "For ever and forever, farewell, Cassius. If we do meet again, why we shall smile; If not, why then, this parting was well made." (V:1, ll. 116-118).
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 216


  3. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream
    Date: 1600
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: The "new feeling" of Bartley's desire for Hilda "put a girdle round the earth while he was going from New York to Moorlock," an allusion to Puck's "I'll put a girdle round about the earth/In forty minutes" (II.i. 175-6).
    Note Source: Alexander's Bridge Chap. X


  4. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Winter's Tale
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In My Antonia, Jim learns that Mary Anderson is "having a great success in The Winter's Tale, in London.
    Note Source: My Antonia Book II, Chap. 7


  5. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Antony and Cleopatra
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In The Professor's House, after talking with Robert Crane about the suit he is bringing against Tom Outland's estate, St. Peter reflects, "If Outland were here to-night, he might say with Mark Antony, My fortunes have corrupted honest men" (IV. v. 16-17). In an 1894 Journal article Cather describes actress Maggie Mitchell as "old and shrunken and 'wrinkled deep in time'"; the line is from Antony and Cleopatra, I.v. In an 1895 Courier article, Cather did a review of Lillian Lewis as Shakespeare's Cleopatra: "I wish it had been Sardou's Cleopatra that Miss Lewis played, for, compared to Shakespeare's it is cheap and tawdry, it has less beauty to mar, less dignity to lose. There have been innumerable attempts to dramatize that greatest love story of the ages. They began with Virgil, who tried to do it in that dramatic fourth book of the Aeneid in the person of the infelix Dido. Since then poets and dramatists and novelists galore have struggled with it. But among them all the great William is the only man who has made a possible character of the Egyptian queen."
    Note Source: The Professor's House Book I, Chap. 13; Journal 3/11/1894; Courier 10/26/1895


  6. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: As You Like It
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "Eric Hermannson's Soul" Margaret Elliot's fiance writes to her about his opportunity to manage a production of As You Like It. According to an 1899 Courier article, Cather says of Hewlett's The Forest Lovers: "Mr. Hewlett makes no more effort to produce an historical setting than Shakespeare did in As You Like It."
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 373; Courier 8/26/1899


  7. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Coriolanus
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "The Way of the World," the narrator compares Mary Eliza Jenkins's behavior to that of Coriolanus's when he deserted Rome to join the Volscians.
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 403


  8. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Cymbeline
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In an 1894 Journal article, Cather writes about Lillian Lewis's plans to play Imogen: "If it were only some other Shakespearean play, but Imogen is familiar to so few people and has been played by so few actresses, that she is rather uncontaminated as yet, and seems almost like a dream which is so much Shakespeare's own that it hardly belongs to the world yet. She is so cold and sad and remote from all the raving, ranting women of France whom Lillian loves that it seems a pity....I hope I shall never see Lillian play it." Cather reviewed Margaret Mather in Shakespeare's Cymbeline for the Journal in 1897: "But O, the play; such a rambling, stringing together of impossible incidents, such unnecessary slaughter, such barbarous taste.... From reading the play you caught no adequate idea of how absurd it appears when presented."
    Note Source: Journal 2/25/1894; Journal 3/7/1897


  9. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Hamlet
    Date: 1603
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In an 1895 Journal article Cather writes: "There has got to be a Hamlet revolution and the sooner the better. The melancholy Dane must be pulled down from banqueting with Plato and Socrates and put over with Charles I and Prince Arthur and all the other princely failures. The man who will humanize the stage Hamlet will be a great man." In a 1900 Library article Cather recalls her attempts to apply mathematical formulae to an analysis of the texts as per her training at Nebraska State. In a 1901 Courier article Cather writes: "Fiction writers are becoming more and more 'sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought'; given over to psychological studies so that they have lost all kinship and knowledge of that part of society which lives in its ears and eyes and stomach and uses its fists oftener than its handkerchiefs."
    Note Source: Journal 3/10/1895; Library 6/23/1900; Courier 8/10/1901


  10. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Henry IV, Part II
    Date: 1600
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In The Song of the Lark, Madison Bowers calls the wealthy, untalented women who come to take singing lessons: "pampered jades of Asia" (II:4.174).
    Note Source: The Song of the Lark Part III, Chap. 1


  11. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Henry IV
    Date: 1598
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: According to an 1895 Journal article, Cather writes about Julia Marlowe's plan to play Prince Hal in her staging of Henry IV: "We have our own conception of Prince Hal; a youth red of hair, blue of eyes, hot of temper, coarse of tongue, amourous and sensual, but having withal a blunt honesty and sturdy manlihood which lies somewhere at the root of every Englishman." In a January 1895 Journal article, Cather writes: "It is a grave question as to just how far the historical plays of Shakespeare are fitted for the modern stage. They were not the product of his highest thought or most spontaneous inspiration." Plays mentioned in this essay: Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Richard III. In "The Treasure of Far Island," Douglass Burnham uses the words of Shakespeare "mettle of [her] pasture" (III:1.27) when he is persuading Margie Van Dyck to go to Far Island.
    Note Source: Journal 8/11/1895; Journal 1/20/1895; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 275


  12. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Henry VIII
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In an 1895 Journal article, Cather writes: "It is a grave question as to just how far the historical plays of Shakespeare are fitted for the modern stage. They were not the product of his highest thought or most spontaneous inspiration." Plays mentioned in this essay: Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Richard III. In My Mortal Enemy, Nelly Birdseye had seen Helena Modjeska play Katherine, Henry's first wife.
    Note Source: Journal 1/20/1895; My Mortal Enemy Part I, Chap. 5


  13. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: King Henry IV, Part I
    Date: 1598
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: Henry Grenfell, in "Before Breakfast" is insulted when his son, on seeing that his father had packed King Henry IV, Part I asks him, "Light reading?"
    Note Source: The Old Beauty and Others 153


  14. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: King John
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In My Mortal Enemy, Myra Henshawe likes to "lie back and repeat the old ones she knew by heart, the long declamations from Richard II or King John" when she is tired. In a piece in Courier, Cather quotes from Act III, scene I, as an epigraph for a column on composer Ethelbert Nevin.
    Note Source: My Mortal Enemy Book II, Chap. 3; Courier 2/5/1898


  15. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: King Lear
    Date: 1608
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: According to A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather, Cather wants to quote "Fortune, turn thy wheel" when she reads Zona Gale's book. In My Mortal Enemy, Myra Henshawe likes to visit what she calls "Gloucester's Cliff": "Why, Nellie!" [Myra] exclaimed, "it's like the cliff in Lear, Gloucester's cliff, so it is!"
    Note Source: A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather #991; My Mortal Enemy Part II, Chap. 2


  16. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Merchant of Venice
    Date: 1600
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In an essay on the death of Christina Rossetti: "the simple music of her poetry is almost drowned by the loftier themes and deeper cadences of her brother.... 'So doth the greater glory dim the less'" (Merchant of Venice V.i).
    Note Source: Journal 1/13/1895


  17. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Merry Wives of Windsor
    Date: 1602
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: Cather reviews Beerbohm Tree's London revival of the play.
    Note Source: Journal 8/24/1902


  18. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Othello
    Date: 1604
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In The Professor's House, Godfrey St. Peter considers that Tom Outland, "this tramp boy," has "amass[ed] a fortune for someone whose name he had never heard, for 'an extravagant and wheeling stranger'" (Othello I.1.135). In "Neighbor Rosicky," Anton Rosicky understands that (unlike Iago) people like Polly do not "wear their heart on their sleeve" I:1, ll. 64 . In a letter, Cather recalls seeing a performance with Paul Robeson and Uta Hagen, and writes that Hagen "conceived and acted the part beautifully."
    Note Source: The Professor's HouseBook III, Chap. 1; Obscure Destinies 59; A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather #1658


  19. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Richard III
    Date: 1597
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "Flavia and Her Artists," Arthur Hamilton says that Imogen Willard is so "girt about with illusions" that she "casts a shadow in the sun" I:1, ll. 26-27. In an 1895 Journal article, Cather writes: "It is a grave question as to just how far the historical plays of Shakespeare are fitted for the modern stage. They were not the product of his highest thought or most spontaneous inspiration." Plays mentioned in this essay: Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Richard III.
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 172; Journal 1/20/1895.


  20. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Romeo and Juliet
    Date: 1597
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "Nanette, An Aside," after Nanette tells Tradutorri that she loves the head waiter, Tradutorri says that she feels like "a veritable mere Capulet. In "The Treasure of Far Island," the narrator says that the same moon that shone over Romeo and Juliet and Paris shines on Douglass Burnham and Margie Van Dyck, and in "Flavia and Her Artists," Jemima Broadwood refers to "the unhappy daughter of the Capulets." According to an 1894 Journal article, Cather writes: "Juliet was certainly the most girlish of Shakespeare's heroines, but she is more than a girl. No one can read the 'Gallop apace' scene (scene 2, act 3) and say that Shakespeare did not mean Juliet to be a woman." According to an 1899 Courier article, Cather writes: Describing playwright Clyde Fitch, Cather quotes Act 1, scene 2: "Too soon marred are those too early made."
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 408; 282; 155; Journal 3/25/1894; Courier 1/21/1899


  21. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Merchant of Venice
    Date: 1600
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: "Last week I saw Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in The Merchant of Venice. It was not only a play, it was the reconstruction of a historic period, the restoration of a bygone civilization, it was the glorious history of Venice animated and made flesh."
    Note Source: Courier 2/17/1900


  22. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Tempest
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In "The Treasure of Far Island," when they reach the shore of the island Douglass Burnham exclaims: "Descend, O Miranda, upon your island!" The epigraph to Cather's Home Monthly column on Daudet's Kings in Exile is from The Tempest, Act I scene ii: "My library was dukedom large enough." According to an 1894 Journal article, in an essay on Emile Zola, Cather writes that he "crouches like Caliban upon his island, and the music of Ariel is to him only a noise which frightens and disturbs."
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 278; Home Monthly 3/1897; Journal 12/13/1894


  23. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
    Date: 1603
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In My Mortal Enemy Cather writes: "There was a great deal of talk about Sarah Bernhardt's Hamlet. In "Two Friends," J.H. Trueman prefers Hamlet to Richard II. In the epigraph of A Lost Lady Cather writes: "Come, my coach! Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies,/Good night, good night"--associates Ophelia with Marian Forrester (Hamlet IV. 5.72-74) In "Jack-a-boy," the narrator says that Jack died at "that hour so common for the passage of souls, when 'the glowworm shows the matin to be near'" (Hamlet I.5.89). In "The Count of Crow's Nest," Buchanan wonders what occurs behind the scenes of the world stage and "how often Hamlet and the grave digger ought to change places." In One of Ours, Evangeline Wheeler sometimes whispers to Claude in her mind when she wakens at night thinking about him: "Rest, rest, perturbed spirit" (Hamlet I.5.182). In The Song of the Lark, Thea Kronborg diagrams "Hamlet's soliloquy." There are five soliloquies, the most famous of which begins, "To be, or not to be" (III.1.5-88). In "The Count of Crow's Nest," the people in the boarding house thought "that the time was out of joint" for them. Hamlet laments: "The time is out of joint--O cursed spite,/That ever I was born to set it right!" (I:5.188-89)
    Note Source: My Mortal Enemy Part I, Chap. 5; Obscure Destinies 180; A Lost Lady epigraph; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 319; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 464; One of Ours Book I, Chap. 12; Song of the Lark Part I, Chap. 14; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 450


  24. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: The Tragedy of Macbeth
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: Cather recalls her attempts to apply mathematical formulae to an analysis of the text of the play as per her training by L. A. Sherman at the University of Nebraska. In "Flavia and Her Artists," when the guests leave Flavia's house, Jemima Broadwood refers to them as "the great doom's image" (II:3, 78). Broadwood also compares Arthur Hamilton's fate to that of Macbeth when she says: "Why he has sacrificed himself to spare the very vanity that devours him, put rancours in the vessels of his peace, and his eternal jewel given to the common enemy of man, to make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!" (Macbeth III.1. 65-69 In The Professor's House, Godfrey St. Peter's "desire to do [his "great work"] and the difficulties attending such a project strove together in his mind like Macbeth's two spent swimmers." The reference is to Macbeth I.ii. 8-9: "As two spent swimmers, that do cling together/And choke their art." In Lucy Gayheart, Clement Sebastian "remembered Macbeth's Oh, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!" when he hears of Larry MacGowan's death (Macbeth III.2.36). In writing to her Aunt Franc upon learning of G.P. Cather's death, Cather "remembered the last act of Macbeth and the line of Old Siward, who upon learning that his son had died nobly in battle, exclaims, 'Why then, God's soldier be he!'" (Macbeth V.8.55).
    Note Source: Library 6/23/1900; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 171; The Professor's House Book I, Chap. 1; Lucy Gayheart Book I, Chap. 11; One of Ours "Historical Essay" Scholarly Edition 629


  25. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Troilus and Cressida
    Date: 1609
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912, the only one of Flavia's earlier artists who still frequented her home was Alcee Buisson who had continued to have a name among artists. "Ambition hath a knapsack at his back, wherein he puts alms to oblivion." In Troilus and Cressida, Ulysses says, "Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back/ Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,/ A great-sized monster of ingratitudes" III:3,ll.145-147. In an 1895 Journal article, Cather writes: "Not only is it true that married nightingales seldom sing, but this nightingale [Helena von Doehnoff] will even retire from the stage. She will not return to it again. She may wish to, but there are other contraltos in the world, and as Mr. Shakespeare informs us, 'Time hath a wallet at his back wherein he puts alms for oblivion'" (Troilus and Cressida III.iii).
    Note Source: Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912; Journal 1/27/1895


  26. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Twelfth Night
    Date: 1623
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: In Lucy Gayheart, when Clement Sebastian pulls out a volume for Lucy to read, she does not tell him that she already has and "thought it a rather foolish comedy . . . ." The volume must be Twelfth Night, for Sebastian has just sung "But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, feed on her damask cheek." (Twelfth Night II.5.113-4.
    Note Source: Lucy Gayheart Book I, Chap. 13


  27. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Sonnet 94
    Date: 1609
    Genre:  poetry
    Note Relating to Cather: In A Lost Lady, when Niel discovers Mrs. Forrester's affair with Frank Ellinger, he "mutter[s], 'Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.'" The full final couplet of Sonnet 94 reads: "For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;/Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds" (Scholarly Edition, note 82). In "Eric Hermannson's Soul," Margaret Elliot's fiance begins a letter to her with an allusion from Sonnet 97: "How like a winter hath thine absence been," changing the first person "my" to "thine," for his purposes.
    Note Source: A Lost Lady Part I, Chap. 7; Collected Short Fiction 1892-1912 373


  28. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Note Relating to Cather: "Enjoyed" reading Shakespeare with the Menuhin children.
    Note Source: A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather #1215


  29. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Romeo and Juliet
    Date: 1597
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: "Can one imagine anything more terrible than the story of Romeo and Juliet rewritten in prose by D.H. Lawrence?"
    Note Source: Not Under Forty 51


  30. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Henry IV Part 2
    Date: 1598
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: "I loved to hear her [Mrs. Fields] read Richard II, or the great, melancholy speeches of Henry IV in the Palace at Westminster: 'And changes fill the cup of altera-ti-on/with divers liquors.'" (III.1.53-54)
    Note Source: Not Under Forty 63


  31. Author: Shakespeare, William
    Title: Richard II
    Date: 1597
    Genre: drama
    Note Relating to Cather: "I loved to hear her [Mrs. Fields] read Richard II, or the great, melancholy speeches of Henry IV in the Palace at Westminster.
    Note Source: Not Under Forty 63