A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Zoë AkinsFeb. 15, 1940Huntington 

Glad she enjoys her home, providing a retreat from the fact that all the inheritance of history is in peril. Would like to have a similar retreat. Can't make the cottage on Grand Manan more comfortable without ruining it. Wishes she had not written Starvation on Red River. Too strident, too unbelievable, with none of her own voice in it and not a single character one can care about. Much like The Little Foxes in this respect. Please go back to her own kind of play.   Willa   [Stout #1474]

To Ferris GreensletJune 10, 1940Harvard 

Very pleased with the autobiography of John Buchan being serialized in the Atlantic. Congratulations on securing a book of such good sense that allows one to think about a different life than that in the present troubled state of the world—as different as Virgilian pastoral. Has been accused of escapism, but realizes one can't escape everything. Is utterly unable to escape the sorrow now threatening all that has made life worth living in this world. Her doctor says people in hospitals these days lack the will to get well. He has forbidden her to go to Philadelphia to accept an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania this month because her physical resistance is so low. P.S.: Please check current edition of My Ántonia from the Riverside Press and see what poor quality paper they are using. One side of the page bleeds through to the other.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1484]

To Ferris GreensletSept. 21, 1940, from New YorkHarvard 

Appreciated his offering her a copy of Lord Tweedsmuir, but didn't answer because completing her new book. Knopf pleased with it. Has not yet received Audubon's America, and looks forward to it as well as the book on Tweedsmuir. Glad they have both known such fine people. Greatly admires the present conduct of the British. Even Stephen Tennant, as pampered as he has been, says he is proud to be in England now. Finished reading Churchill's Life of Marlborough at Grand Manan and considers it a very great work. P.S.: The books have arrived.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1491]

To Bishop George BeecherJune 10, 1944UNL 

How is it that retirement only meant he was taking up new work? Knew he would not be happy without working. He is a soldier for the Lord.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1670]

To Will Andrews [October 10, n.y.] UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Just ordered a terrific Victor record from an agent: Gorgoza (Emma Eames's husband) singing "La Paloma," an important song in Mexico and one of Cather's favorites. "La Paloma" translates to "the dove," and the joyful song is about a prisoner watching a dove out his window and planning happy days of freedom ahead. Tell her if there is any problem with the record when it arrives. Will should listen to Julia Culp singing "Oh, Rest in the Lord" at the Victor store when he is in Red Cloud next.   Willa 

To Ethel Garber Cather [sister-in-law], Sunday [October 21, 1928] from the Grosvenor Hotel, New York CityUNL-Southwick 

The coat is in the mail. Thinks it's lovely. If it doesn't fit, send it back to Lord and Taylor with instructions for Miss Dust in the cloak department. Lord and Taylor is a dependable store. Consider a hat to match the coat. She and Edith deliberately selected a classic style; idiosyncratic styles will soon look foolish. Helen Louise will love Ethel's getting the coat more than she would getting anything of her own—so the gift is from her, too!   Willie 

To Virginia Cather [December 6?, 1926] , on W.S.C. letterhead ; UNL-Roscoe 

Can't decide what books to get for the twins, as she doesn't know what they have. Do they have Kipling's Jungle Books or Louisa May Alcott's novels? How about Little Lord Fauntleroy, Hans Brinker, Pilgrim's Progress, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer? Please send a list of what they would like. Won't be able to buy them for this Christmas, but would like help for the future. Just received her pleasant letter. Is pleased not to be an embarrassment to her nieces. Hopes Virginia will write when she's read the first installment of Death Comes for the Archbishop. That is her real holiday gift for her family: the Archbishop can't be purchased; one needs a crafty aunt to invent him.   Willa Cather. 

To Roscoe Cather[December 1938 or January 1939?]UNL-Roscoe 

Was not worried about business matters when she asked where to find him in January. Occasionally just wants to communicate with him on personal matters. With the loss of Isabelle, she has no one with whom she can share gratifying moments of acclaim. Alfred Knopf likes to know about them, but he is so sure of his own favorable estimate of everything she does that the estimates of others don't really matter to him. To her, however, the opinions of certain others do matter. Cares about Tweedsmuir's opinion, for example, if only because he is a true scholar and his Augustus Caesar book is so fine. Really likes the Swedish review, too, because it understands precisely why her book has the subdued, distant tone it has. This reviewer is also insightful on Lawrence, whom she knew well. Hopes Roscoe doesn't mind receiving such things now and then. Like Knopf, the Menuhins don't really understand that elaborate praise feels unnatural to her. Yehudi once said in an interview that his preferred writers were Victor Hugo and Willa Cather! It takes a long time to get anywhere from Red Cloud. Hopes he and Meta will read over the enclosed items at leisure, and then return them to her.   Willie. 

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