A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

21 letters found

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To the City Editor [ Omaha Daily News ]Jan. 12, 1924, telegram ; UVa 

Declines to make public statement about portrait.   Willa Cather   [Stout #713]

To Duncan M. Vinsonhaler,  Sunday [Jan. 13, 1924] UVa 

Enclosing a telegram from newspaper and copy of her answer. Is not pleased with the portrait, but other painters advised it could not be refused. Bakst worked hard on it, and she worked hard sitting. Is sorry if the committee is displeased. Entire matter has been stressful.   Willa Cather   [Stout #714]

To Alice Hunt Bartlett1925 pub. in part in Poetry Review of London, quoted in Bohlke

Does not regard herself as an "effective force in American poetry," as Bartlett said. Of her own poetry, believes "A Likeness," "A Silver Cup," "Going Home," and "Macon Prairie" are the best. The most popular is probably "Spanish Johnny."   [Stout #769]

To Mabel Dodge LuhanDec. 14, [1933?], from 570 Park Avenue, New YorkBeinecke 

Found her letter waiting when she returned from New Hampshire. Glad she is having her portrait done. Enjoyed being lazy all summer, but worked hard during the fall. Anticipates a good musical season in New York and is looking forward to the Menuhins' arrival in January. Does she know where Elsie Sergeant is?   Willa   [Stout #1204]

To Carrie Miner SherwoodJan. 27, 1934WCPM 

International Mark Twain Society has voted My Ántonia a silver medal, but must go to St. Louis to receive it. She might enjoy reading enclosed report done for the Society. Please don't show people in Red Cloud who are spiteful or would gape at Annie Pavelka to see how dissimilar Ántonia is. Why won't people believe fiction is not a direct portrait of real people? "Two Friends" not about Mr. Miner and Mr. Richardson, but the emotional response to them felt by a child. It recreates a memory. Similarly, Ántonia sums up emotions about immigrant people she knew there. Mr. Sadilek's suicide was the first thing she heard about upon arriving in Nebraska. Her fiction has always been a precise representation of her feelings, never faked or exaggerated feeling. P.S.: Enjoyed seeing Irene when she was in New York.  Willie   [Stout #1214]

To Enit KaufmanMay 15, 1944HRC 

Appreciates her interest and regards it as a compliment, but does not care to have her portrait painted for American Portraits [pub. Henry Holt, 1946]. Realizes Dorothy Canfield is involved in this effort as well, but even so, does not believe she belongs among the list of people it will include. They are much more public people. Learned from having her portrait published in Good Housekeeping about fifteen years ago that publicity brings interruptions.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1667]

To Dorothy Canfield FisherMay 26, 1944UVt 

So long since she heard from her! Is sending a copy of letter to a Mrs. Kaufman, who wanted her to sit for a portrait. Never again! Many family events have kept her occupied, let alone the war. Has been drawn back in by the family net. Now has three nieces and a nephew living nearby. Has had little energy since the gall bladder operation. Is worn out from constant housekeeping, now that all of New York is burning soft coal. Please help Mrs. Kaufman understand.   Willa   [Stout #1668]

To Sister [probably Elsie Cather]August 27 and September 4, [1923], from Aix-les-Bains, FranceUNL-Southwick 

[Opening section dated August 27.] Keep mother from getting worried about the portrait nonsense. It won't arrive in Omaha until January at earliest. Knows mother can be awfully stressed by such things, so tell her she [Cather] thinks it is silly. If mother wants to be involved, that's fine, but don't let it be a point of worry. Mary Virginia can certainly handle the presentation of the portrait without a problem. The whole thing is ridiculous. [Second section dated September 4.] Is in Aix-les-Bains getting treatments for worsening back. Dr. Litchfield, whom she saw in Paris when he came for his daughter's wedding, encouraged her to come, as have McClure and Bakst. Bakst even rearranged his schedule to give her more sittings when she returns to Paris (now is going to have 15 sittings instead of the expected 10). Doctor diagnosed her with intercostal rheumatism and said three weeks of treatment will provide a cure. If "friend" interrupts the treatments, it will take longer. Misses lovely Paris, but relief from backache is worth it. Has a wonderful room and excellent food for a small price—much less expensive than the awful accommodations in Lakewood, New Jersey, last winter. Doctor and treatments are costly, though. Treatments are hot sulfur baths accompanied by underwater massages. Took trip from Paris on the impressive Paris-Rome Express, and, thanks to exchange rates, it was not expensive at all. It is still very expensive for local people, who must hate the foreigners that tour in a luxury no natives can afford, especially since so many of their men died to make it worth touring. Loves the pictures of Helen Louise and the baby [probably Charles Edwin Cather, nephew], as does Isabelle and her pregnant Italian cook. The cook and her husband have been preparing for the baby throughout the summer, and Jan is to be the godfather. The baby will be named Jan if it is a boy, and Giovanna if it is a girl. [Note in margin requests that all mail be directed to Ville D'Avray.]   Willa 

To Elsie CatherSeptember 19, [1923], from Aix-les-Bains, FranceUNL-Southwick 

Those were just typographical mistakes and they got by both her and Edith. Should have read the first printing [of A Lost Lady] for such mistakes, but has not been well and did not suppose it would sell so fast. Did wonder about using the telephone in the novel, but no specific date was given and the events take place over a rather long stretch of time. The final section was meant to be set in 1900 or so, but it could be 1903 or 1904, and telephones were available at that time. Time was tricky in the book, as about fifteen years preceding and following the action had to be dealt with. The actual incidents of the plot took about a decade, but the reader had to feel the alterations brought by about thirty years, so was not too specific. Has Elsie seen the large advertisement in the Atlantic and the kind pieces in the Bee and World-Herald? Judge Vinsonhaler says it is fine for Mary Virginia to make the presentation of the portrait if mother is unwilling. Vinsonhaler is very kind; Shotwell, that friend of Nell McNeny's, is the problem. Bakst had beautiful photographs taken with her in his studio; would Elsie like one? Will send one to Carrie for sure. Risked illness and ventured up to cold Mount Revard, and it was marvelous. The new snow on Mount Blanc made the scene breathtaking. Paris newspapers have been printing glowing pieces on her recently. She stumbled across them by chance and sent to her publisher. Has a secret: the Figaro editor told her that she nearly received the French Legion of Honor for Claude, and would've gotten it if the full committee could read novels in English. Since it will be translated into French soon, the editor believes she will eventually get the honor. All of the French who have read the book seem to be transformed into her publicists. Would enjoy the attention very much if she were only feeling better. No, did not use Margie's knife as an ice-pick, but damaged it cutting soup bones. Is pleased Sambo's alligator is no longer living; the Mathenys have become ridiculous. Recently had word from Isabelle that her Italian cook delivered a stillborn girl and nearly died in the process. Is very saddened, as Bagina and her husband were so excited about the pregnancy. Did not see the interview mentioning Hochstein, as it appeared in the New York Herald when she was home for Christmas, and all the papers were sold out. Wonders how the Hastings paper got it. [The article, entitled "Fiction Recalls Violinist Lost In War: An Interview With Willa Cather," appeared in the New York Herald, 24 December 1922, sec. 8, p. 4, cols. 1-4; p. 12, cols. 3-4. It was reprinted in the Commercial Advertiser, 3 September 1923, p. 2, cols. 1- 4; p. 3, col. 1.]   Willa 

To Roscoe CatherMarch 2, [1908] on McClure's Magazine letterhead, from BostonUNL-Roscoe 

Has been in Boston since January and is now, after a couple of weeks with Mrs. Deland, back in the comfortable, old-fashioned Parker House. Has been seeing many remarkable people, including Winthrop Ames, an arts patron interested in Ibsen who has an air of ennui and the grandson of Otis [actually, Oliver] Ames. Listening to him talk, one thinks of that rocky monument to the Ames brothers on the mountain [near Laramie, Wyoming], and knows that they were not bothered with ennui. Oh, well, it is difficult being one of the first generation of sophisticates—think of the talk they heard about the Troll Garden. Is sailing for Naples with Isabelle on either April 8 on the Carpathia or on April 11 on the Freiderich der Grosse. Itinerary includes Naples, Capri, and Pompeii, Rome, a 300-mile walk along the Mediterranean from Monte Carlo to Marseilles, Arles, Avignon, and finally Paris. Seems odd to go to Rome after its long life in her imagination and education. One could say that Rome, London, and Paris were the three main cities in Nebraska. May or may not stop at London; has letters of introduction to Kipling, Maurice Hewlett, Barrie, and Conan Doyle, among others, but is more interested in places and ancient ruins than people right now. By comparison with Roman civilization, our own looks pretty shabby. The Roman civilization is still preserved in southern France, where people still live as in Virgil's Georgics. Has bought Roscoe several excellent pictures in Boston: Van Dyck's self-portrait, The Windmill (old Dutch), The Song of the Lark by Jules Breton, Wyeth's Calling the Moose and Indian Hunter, "The Dinkey Bird is Singing in the Amfalulu Tree" by Maxfield Parrish, and Remington's Caught in the Circle, all for $16.23, which Roscoe now owes her. Hopes he and Meta like them. If he doesn't appreciate the Van Dyck, she will be angry, as she has one and loves it. It was Jessie who thought he would like The Song of the Lark. Would have preferred to send older French and Dutch images herself, but thought he might prefer these moderns. Does he like The Queen's Quaire?   Willie 

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