A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To F. Scott FitzgeraldApr. 28, 1925Princeton 

Enjoyed his book [ The Great Gatsby ] and never even supposed the passage he points out was derived from A Lost Lady. Inevitable that in describing beauty one could only write about the feelings it evoked in oneself.   Willa Cather   [Stout #781]

To Ferris Greenslet,  Monday [Mar. 29, 1943?] Harvard 

Appreciates the copy of A Christmas Carol. Has never been able to appreciate all of Dickens's books, but always liked this and Great Expectations. Has just reread it. Enjoyed retreating to the past.   W. S. C.   [Stout #1623]

To Charles Cather [April 17?, 1913] , from 5 Bank Street photocopy, not original; UNL-Southwick 

Appreciates the interest check and is pleased Mr. MacArthur accepted the loan. If he has trouble placing other $700 just mail it back so it can earn interest in the bank. Is working on McClure's Autobiography, which will come out in the fall and winter. Father will like it. Will soon begin correcting proof on new novel [ O Pioneers! ]. Publishers have high expectations, and the book will go on sale September 1. Howard Gore wrote to inquire if she was close to William Jennings Bryan and could persuade him to give Gore a diplomatic appointment in Holland. [Bryan served as Secretary of State 1913-1915.] Gore is smart, but also a kiss-up. Alex Pendleton wrote; is sounding old. Unfortunately can't make it to Winchester this spring. Tell Uncle Billy Parks hello. Heard wonderful old stories from him last summer. Has been thinking about their drives when she was in Red Cloud last spring.   Willie 

To Louise Imogen GuineyAugust 17, 1912, from 1180 Murray Hill Avenue, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaHoly Cross 

Must refer to her as Miss Guiney due to long history of admiration, though such a habit does not mean she feels distant. Returned from travels in the West recently, and is glad to be back. Typically is longing for it, but got her fill during the recent trip. The people seem so fat and overconfident, as if they are trying to meet the expectations of Owen Wister and Remington. The land in Arizona and New Mexico is amazing, though. As Balzac commented, the desert has both all and nothing, God without humankind. That line has to be lived awhile before its profundity sinks in. The spirit gets lonesome in a place where the only history is geologic. Glad she liked "Alexander," but thinks "The Bohemian Girl" is even better. Mrs. Fields did not like it, however, but she just could not get past the crudeness of the characters' behavior. Will Guiney let her and her sister rent the cottage? Did she know Andrew Lang or the unfortunate Mr. Stead [possibly William Thomas Stead, British writer who died when the Titanic sunk in April 1912]? Mrs. Vermocken writes that she loves Guiney's house, and hopes she can see it (and Guiney) soon. Was planning to stay with Mrs. Fields in October, but work is keeping her in the city.   Willa 

To Roscoe Cather,  Sunday, December 25, [1938], on W.S.C. letterhead ; UNL-Roscoe 

Received enough plants yesterday to fill the apartment, then had tea with the Menuhins at five. Upon returning at seven, noticed a box from the excellent New York florist Irene Hays. Assumed it was from Yehudi, as he regularly uses that florist. Inside the box were beautiful, deep purple violets and Roscoe's card. Instantly began crying, so astonished and pleased. Is not used to such devotion from her family. Douglass used to send a sack of walnuts at Christmas, which were nice, but flowers have a special meaning, and these violets affected her deeply. Has kept them with her—on the breakfast table and now on her desk. Is happy to excess, perhaps, but the reason is what compels her response. Remembers sleeping in the cold attic, snow drifting in, hearing train whistles in the biting air. Flowers from him mean more than all the other flowers combined because they evoke old Christmases, when she was filled with groundless expectations about her life. She, Roscoe, and Douglass were devoted to one another, and life was exciting in those days of the South Ward school. Happy New Year. [Written on envelope:] Where will he be in two weeks?  Willie.