A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To R. L. ScaifeMay 18, [1915], from New YorkHarvard 

Sending about half the corrected proofs to the press today. Please remember to provide three pulls of the galleys.   Willa S. Cather   [Stout #306]

To Houghton Mifflin Co.July 28, [1918], from Jaffrey, N.H.Harvard 

Has returned 215 pages of proof to the Riverside Press, but still has not received all of the proofs.   Willa S. Cather   [Stout #426]

To Ferris GreensletMay 19, [1919], from New YorkHarvard 

Has many things to take up with him. Bill for corrections on proof has brought all this to a head. If Houghton Mifflin really valued her, wouldn't they absorb such costs? Three New York publishers have approached her recently. Houghton Mifflin has not used good reviews effectively to boost sales and has not been diligent about getting review copies out. One reviewer told her Houghton Mifflin seems unwilling to praise this book. Why are they reluctant to quote people who say things like "great writer"? Wishes they would advertise her as Knopf has Hergesheimer, but they do not seem to take a long-term interest in her books. Their stock of The Song of the Lark has dropped to eight copies and O Pioneers! to four. Hates to have books with two different publishers, but wants a press that will believe in her.   Willa Cather   [Stout #461]

To Carrie Miner Sherwood,  n.d. [June 19, 1931] WCPM 

Sending press clippings about honorary degree at Princeton. Sat beside Charles Lindbergh at the formal dinner and had lunch with him and his wife. Hated not to stop in Red Cloud, but will come some day.   Willie   [Stout #1055]

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 GreensletFeb. 6, 1943Harvard 

Enclosing a letter from Curtice Hitchcock. Might he find a copy of the reproduction of Dickens's A Christmas Carol published by Atlantic Monthly Press in 1920? P.S.: Enjoyed his visit.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1613]

To Ferris GreensletFeb. 24, 1943, telegram ; Harvard 

Agrees to Heinemann proposal to release My Ántonia in the Oxford University Press series.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1616]

To Roscoe CatherJuly 11, 1940UNL-Roscoe 

Just returned home yesterday from Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where she was recovering her strength after a serious health problem in May. Was in the French Hospital for a week then. Did not tell him about it because she did not want to worry him and the doctor said it would take a while to recover. Had meant to be at the University of Pennsylvania on June 12 to accept an honorary degree, but was not able to go. Received the degree anyway. Is now working regularly, which hasn't happened for a while. Is set on giving the book to Alfred Knopf by the fall; the title shall be Sapphira and the Slave Girl. After missing so many deadlines, feels honor bound to meet this one. Not sure what made Roscoe think she was reading proof. At the time she went to Jaffrey about a month ago, two crucial chapters were not even written. In her old room in the country, though, was able to write two and a half hours each morning, then rest in bed in the afternoon, on doctor's orders. Drafted the chapters in pencil in two weeks, so will need to revise extensively, and then go through the entire manuscript and pull it together. The writing was going well when Douglass died; had to stop for four months. Then after Isabelle's death, found she scarecely cared about the book. Tried to write again, but felt like an altered woman. As a result, the book broke apart, and despite patching it together the fracture will remain. Found a letter from Margaret waiting in New York and will write her soon. Margaret does not have a telephone, so can't call; must wait until time permits writing. Has started a two-hour-a-day writing schedule without even unpacking, and will maintain it every day until Knopf has the book, even if it means spending the whole summer in New York. Please read her little essay about Knopf ["Portrait of the Publisher as a Young Man," in Alfred A. Knopf Quarter Century (New York: Plimpton Press, 1940), 9-26.] to see why she is so committed, and it doesn't even tell half of the considerate things he has done. Must not let him down. No reason not to read proof at Grand Manan, but nowhere near that point. Mary Virginia, when she is in New York, is always helpful with routine needs, but she is on a month's vacation now. Has a lot on her hands, but the book will be finished before she goes anywhere again. Sorry for burdening him with all this. Hypertension causes troubling side-effects, especially a fogged short-term memory. Misses her former keen memory. P.S. Hears devastating news from English and French friends. [New note written on back:] July 12. Just received his good explanation of Ocean Front vs. the State of California. Doesn't believe a process server could bother her. Wishes she were already hiding out at Grand Manan. Hopes he has a fine time with his family. W.  Willie.