A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Zoë AkinsNov. 27, [1912?], from PittsburghHuntington 

Enjoyed reading her one-act play and her sonnets, but doesn't really like poems about artistic endeavor. "Rain, Rain!" and "Amen" are very good. Was in New York in October working on an article on the play openings.   W. S. C.   [Stout #247]

To Zoë Akins [Mrs. Hugo Rumbold]Nov. 21, [1932]Huntington 

Shocked to hear of Hugo's death. At least they had a little time. After one is forty-five death seems to rain down, and after fifty it becomes a storm. Should let her daily routine carry her along, and avoid alcohol for now. Would like to come to California to be with her, but has an eye infection. Also, has just signed a lease on an apartment—570 Park Avenue. Hang on, and time will restore her.   Willa   [Stout #1132]

To Charles F. Cather,  Monday [September 1913] UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Took a walk on the Peughtown road and searched the Cookes' field for the beautiful gum tree. Could not find it, but found plenty of briars and berry bushes. Rain for last five days, but is getting out anyway.   W 

To Elsie CatherJune 25, 1934UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Is disappointed Elsie won't be able to make it to England, but her plan to drive through New England sounds pleasant. Elsie ought to come to Grand Manan if she is going to be in Maine—so different from Nebraska. One can take a car on the ferry at Eastport, Maine, three times a week. There is no room in the cottage, but Elsie and her friend could stay at Miss Jacobus's inn [The Inn at Whale Cove], where Mary Virginia stayed during her visit. The inn can fill in July and August, so it is best to give a few weeks advance notice. She will have plenty of use for the car. Is occupied with the final stages of her book, but could take walks with Elsie. The tourists on the island—mostly teachers and librarians—are not a formal bunch. Elsie will need practical, comfortable clothing and shoes that can bear up to the rocks and rainy weather. Grand Manan often gets periods of rain alternating with bouts of sunshine, but the rain is part of the island's charm. Since it takes quite a long time to get to Grand Manan, Elsie should stay a minimum of two weeks. The wild beauty is not grandiose, but is pleasing. Edith would be glad to see her too. Doesn't know about camps; Grand Manan was Virginia's choice. Meant to write earlier, but has been working hard on the book. It won't be published as a book until September 1935; it will be in Woman's Home Companion first [Lucy Gayheart appeared in the Woman's Home Companion in 5 parts, March-July 1935; the book was published August 1, 1935]. Is serializing the novel only for the income and hopes friends will only read the book form. PS: The ferry that brings automobiles costs ten dollars. Last year Edith's sister brought her car over.  Willie 

To Elsie CatherAugust 22, [1934]UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Has received the stories of Dr. Creighton's funeral in Red Cloud newspapers—too bad Carrie and Walter [Sherwood?] had to cut their vacation short. Elsie's difficult summer back west has colored her own summer, too. Elsie should take a year off work after such a summer, should go on a cruise or something. She and Douglass will pay for it, which they ought to do in repayment for Elsie's caring for Bess. Has not corresponded recently because she needed to rest severely sunburned eyes, but has thought of her often. Perhaps Elsie should take Bess to the hospital, and should definitely say if more money is needed. Have the trees gotten any rain recently?   Willie 

To Roscoe Cather,  Sunday [August 20, 1916] , on 5 Bank Street letterhead, but written from Red CloudUNL-Roscoe 

Hasn't had a minute to herself until now. Had to give a talk at Gertie Coon's Institute. Loves to play with West Virginia—such a lovely, fascinating child. Virginia's grandmother pretends to be a disciplinarian, but really spoils her. Virginia has seemed to want to go home only once, when she saw father without his dentures and started crying. Virginia will be a challenge to raise as she is headstrong and doesn't have a good sense of priorities: will ruin an entire picnic because she couldn't wear a particular ribbon in her hair, though in fact she is indifferent to hair ribbons and loves the idea of the picnic. She seems unable to give in. However, after a big fight with her grandmother about whether it is acceptable to play in the rain barrel while wearing a nice white dress, she is pleasant and not bitter. And Douglass agrees that she has such a delightful voice. Roscoe ought to be firm with her when she gets passionate over small matters. People who lack proper perspective live muddled lives. However, that's really the only improvement she needs. Otherwise, she is very appealing: a smart girl, who will likely respond to guidance. Her grandmother won't be any help, though, as so many of her days have also been spoiled over trifles. Mary Virginia and Tom, despite their upbringing, know they can't be bothersome or they won't be tolerated by their adult aunts and uncles. Doesn't have any idea what Jim's plans are—who could?—, but they should let Virginia stay awhile. Everyone enjoys her company. Loves seeing the way their unsentimental mother keeps looking in on Virginia after she is asleep. Misses Margaret and Elizabeth very much and wishes they could read letters. Please get copies of the photographs of her with the twins made soon so she can mail them to people like Jack and Isabelle. Felt so bleak when she first went to Lander and left feeling revived. The twins took her mind off problems, and taking horseback rides with Roscoe was invigorating and heartening. Had secretly feared that she and Meta would not get along, but found it a real pleasure to become friends with her. Was so relieved, and really feels now that she and Meta could be companionable even on a long trip with the twins. Should have come to Lander long ago. Misses the twins terribly. Wonders if they enjoy Isabelle's gift of a stuffed bear? P.S. Remember to send the pictures!  Willie. 

To Roscoe CatherMay 16, 1936UNL-Roscoe 

Is pleased he had a good time with Douglass on his trip. As to the twins, if they will be in Lake Placid this July, they ought to come to Grand Manan afterwards. They are not likely to be so close again, and there is something exciting about being on an island offshore. To do it, they would need to take a train to Montreal and then to St. John, New Brunswick, to wait for a boat. They might need to stay at the Admiral Beatty Hotel for a couple of days, but St. John has some appeal of its own. The boat trip to Grand Manan takes a whole day, but is quite nice. They should stay two weeks on Grand Manan, and she will set them up at the same place Mary Virginia stayed during her visits. The trip will likely be expensive—about $100 each. Will send a check to cover the costs when it's all set. Naturally, there will be no costs for them on the island, as she will be their hostess. But it is critical they have the right clothing! They should have warm clothing, rain coats (it can rain a good deal there), and the right kind of shoes. Rubber-soled tennis shoes would be perfect. Girls have been injured climbing on the cliffs in high-heeled shoes. Is certain the twins will enjoy the island as much as she does. What does he think about this plan? Would love their company. Enjoys having fun with young people. Her joy in the Menuhins is not just because they are supremely gifted, but because of their youth. With them, it seems as if she were heading out for Garbers' grove.   Willie.