A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

12 letters found

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To Mary Virginia Cather and Elsie CatherMay 27, [1924]UNL-Southwick 

Was planning to leave for Red Cloud weeks ago when received an offer from University of Michigan to get an honorary doctorate on June 16. Knopf and other friends believe that it should not be passed up. Robert Frost thought declining would be offensive. Ann Arbor is, surprisingly, closer to New York than to Red Cloud. So has decided to come after receiving degree in Michigan and stay there until late July. Is intolerant of the heat, of course, so will leave for Grand Manan and be there in friends' cabin in August and September—yes, a strange plan for getting a few weeks of writing time. The degree is wrecking the summer. Doesn't understand why she can't refuse. Wishes people would be independent enough to ignore praise the way they do criticism and let nothing get in the way of living. Elsie, please write if parents are unwell; a sick parent would be an acceptable way to decline the degree. Can't bring herself to lie about it, though; would feel responsible if they actually got sick. [note in the margin of the second page, written by Mary Virginia Cather, reads, "Why do you not write home Write what you think best to Willa I am not so very well. But I can easily[?] wait[?]. perhaps it is best for her to come late after you get here Mother."]   Willie 

To Mary Virginia CatherJune 7, [1928] from the Grosvenor Hotel, New York CityUNL-Southwick 

Is not angry, just tired from the flu and impatient with all the requests made of her. Is refusing the requests, but even writing decorous rejections is burdensome. Getting the honorary degree from Columbia University was wonderful. Was the sole woman among six aging men, and sat in cap and gown next to the French Ambassador [Paul Claudel?]and the University of California's president [ William Wallace Campbell ]. Edith says that the crowd cheered for her most, and they did. Was applauded when the President [ Nicholas Murray Butler ] called her name and again after two Deans put a beautiful collar on her; the others only got applause after they received their degrees. The Cuban, de Bustamante, was also well-liked. After the ceremony, she went to a supper party hosted by President Butler and spoke with many dignitaries from the university and beyond. It was pleasant, but tiring. She should have invited Mary Virginia along. Is mailing the Columbia collar [hood], along with the Michigan one, to Carrie Sherwood for storage. Hasn't the room to store them, and Carrie has a special place. Hopes mother likes the beads, even if family does usually question her [i.e., Cather's] judgment in such matters. Is planning to go to Grand Manan soon. PS: The traveling done by the men receiving degrees tells one how important they think it is.  Willie 

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