A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mrs. Helen StowellAug. 28, 1889 from Red Cloud, Nebr. on father's letterhead ; WCPM 

Has been studying Greek and reading Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens. Brothers Roscoe and Douglass competed in the Firemen's State Tournament. Is serving as a reporter for the Republican, edited by Dr. McKeeby. Has been to picnics in the Garbers' grove. Local couple flirting ridiculously. Jessie, Roscoe, and Douglass singing in cantata. Is going to baseball game in Superior, Nebraska, with Mary and Hugh Miner. Is going to dance at platform in the Garbers' grove tonight.   Willa Cather   [Stout #3]

To Mr. PhillipsonDec. 23, 1943WCPM 

No, Thea Kronborg was modeled on a singer; was well acquainted with her. Yes, much of the required reading in schools was dull, such as Silas Lapham and The House of the Seven Gables. Doesn't agree that Silas Marner is dull, despite slow pace. Conveys much of England itself.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1649]

To Professor HornbergerMay 1946 "DRAFT" is written across the top and the letter is unsigned; ; UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Will never allow Death Comes for the Archbishop to be in an anthology, as anthologies are ultimately shallow [Horberger published The Literature of the United States in 1946]. After speaking to many young people, is convinced that the college classroom is no place for modern books. When a man is in school, he ought to study the classics of the English canon. An energetic undergraduate will read current books for fun. When teaching school in Pittsburgh, was forced to use a set list of texts, which included Silas Marner, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Marmion, Quentin Durward, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Macbeth, and the poetry of Robert Burns. Some students are still in contact. Would Prof. Hornberger consider Silas Marner—a rewarding if unhurried book, good for modern students—worthy of an anthology? Does not know who selected the list and was given no options, but was expected to read them and test the students on them. This is the limit of what a high school English class can be. If one hundred students read a great writer, about two of them will be affected deeply, and the other ninety-eight will not be injured by it. When reading the classics, there needs to be no distasteful argument of a writer's worth. All anthologies make this kind of argument, except for Field-Marshal Wavell's [ Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry ], whose notes are sometimes better than even the selected work. Except for the glut of Browning's work, his selections are perfect. He loves The Hound of Heaven and expresses that. He fears neither Rommel nor erudition. PS: Please send a list of pieces in Volume One to aid in thinking about Volume Two.

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.