A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

10 letters found

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To Fanny ButcherNov. 21, [1927], from New YorkNewberry 

Appreciates her concern, but won't have to have appendectomy. Probably it's living in a hotel that is making her sick. Has written an open letter to Commonweal about the novel and her sources. Is looking forward to starting west.   W. S. C.   [Stout #914]

To Blanche Knopf,  Monday [Jan. 9, 1928] , from Red Cloud, Nebr.HRC 

Please fend off these correspondents. Give Heinemann permission to use the Commonweal letter in pamphlets. Please send biographical pamphlets to give to clubs.   W. S. C.   [Stout #921]

To Thomas MasarykFeb. 12, [1929?], from New YorkBerkeley 

Is very pleased and grateful for his letter; especially glad he liked Death Comes for the Archbishop. Based on lives of actual first French missionaries who came into the formerly Spanish territory in the southwestern U.S. Sketch on the cover was taken from an old picture of Archbishop Lamy on horseback. Since publication, has received letters from many Catholics, traders, and Army men who were in the old West. Is sending him her published account of how she became interested in the story and gleaned material for it ["On Death Comes for the Archbishop," Commonweal, November 23, 1927]. Finds it gratifying that he takes an interest in her books.   Willa Cather   [Stout #961]

To Ferris GreensletNov. 26, [1931]Harvard 

Yes, would like new edition of The Song of the Lark without Breton picture on jacket. Can't write preface now; indeed, doesn't want to write any more prefaces, prefers to maintain some mystery. Would not want Commonweal letter about Archbishop to be used as a preface. Please eliminate the verse that follows dedication to Isabelle McClung. Shadows on the Rock doing splendidly.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1087]

To Cyril ClemensApr. 30, 1936UVa 

Not sure why The Song of the Lark has not been translated into Spanish. Glad he likes her article in Commonweal enough to republish it as a pamphlet, but it belongs to Knopf and he will use it in a small volume of essays soon. Leaving soon to spend all of May in New England botanizing with friends.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1317]

To Sister LecroisJune 12, 1937unknown present location; previously at Manhattanville College, Purchase, N.Y. 

Is very pleased by her letter. Is glad when French people find an authentic note in her two priests [in Death Comes for the Archbishop]. They were modeled on real figures from history whom she studied so closely she felt she knew them. Unfortunately, her student cannot hope to publish a translation of the book into French, as that has already been done and by now has been published. Will have Miss Bloom enclose a copy of the short essay about the writing of the book done for a Catholic publication [ Commonweal ].   Willa Cather   [Stout #1366]

To unnamed nun [addressed only as Sister]Nov. 23, 1940Loyola 

Yes, several of her books show admiration for Catholic missionary priests. Has known and personally admired several—Father Connelly in Winslow, Arizona, Father Haltermann in Santa Cruz, N.M., and a Belgian priest who died in World War I while serving as a chaplain in the Belgian army. Enclosing a reprint of her letter to the Commonweal about sources for Death Comes for the Archbishop.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1505]

To Captain HazlewoodJune 1, 1946Beinecke 

Thanks for his interesting letter. If her health were better, would want to talk with him about the Spanish missionary he described. His question about how an author decides what material will be artistically successful is based on misconception. The subject comes, it awakens a spark of something, and there should not be any further thought about whether the result will be successful. Suggests he read her letter to Commonweal about the writing of Death Comes for the Archbishop.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1733]

To Mr. Sternern.d. [about 1930-1931], from Grosvenor Hotel, New YorkPenn 

He may use the sonnet , but regards it as so poor that she dropped it from the second edition of the volume [1923]. Very juvenile. [The Commonweal published six Cather poems, "Thou Art the Pearl," "Sonnet," "On Cydnus, "Eurydice," "L'envoi," and "Prairie Dawn" in the February 25, 1931 issue.]   Willa Cather   [Stout #1810]

To Sister Mary Virginia [1943?] transcription, not original; included with note from Sister Mary Virginia to John Towner FrederickIowa 

Will not be able to contribute much to her thesis, as she does not think about her characters in such a way. Disdains terms fancied by many English instructors, like "contacted" and "motivation," as books based upon a writer's technical plan are dreary to read. Among the many writers she knows, none of them conceive their works by determining how one character will respond to another; instead, the writer is taken with an idea and needs to give it voice. Characters cohabit a story because it seems inevitable to the writer that they should, not because of some kind of calculated response. Is mailing a copy of the truthful report she wrote about how she conceived of Death Comes for the Archbishop ["A Letter from Willa Cather to the Editor of the Commonweal," Commonweal 7 (November 27, 1927): 713]. All great writers do this: they write to express passion or outrage, something heartfelt and unplanned. It is too bad that teachers convince students that books are an elaborate scheme, when they are something much more extraordinary: a deep expression of the author's caring and joy.