Corresponded with him [possibly J. M. Barrie, who died in June 1937] last three years and is pleased to have been a diversion for him as he aged. He told Rollo Ogden of the New York Times that he read Death Comes for the Archbishop, My Ántonia, and A Lost Lady repeatedly, and he wrote in a letter that Ántonia is his and he has known her always though he just discovered her. W.
Is in Marseilles and will sail October 25; will arrive in New York on November 12. The French were very kind and helpful during her trip from Paris, but the Americans were quite ill-mannered. Has to go everywhere in a carriage while she does her business, but can walk some in the hotel. The injured foot is about as expensive as another traveling companion. Thankfully has a terrific masseuse to treat foot twice daily. Will not need to walk on the boat, but will not like being injured when the boat stops in Naples for three days. French people are so courteous. A Major of Artillery with a missing arm did much to help, and even the drivers have assisted her. Hopes everyone is doing well at home. Edith's mother mailed a nice review of the new book [ Youth and the Bright Medusa ] from the New York Times. Willa
Has taken a good while to reply to Elsie. Many friends have been dying, and has been dictating sympathy letters to exhaustion. Must take satisfaction from the nice words of the late Justice Holmes in the morning's New York Times [Henry Steele Commager, in "Justice Holmes in his Letters" (a review of The Holmes-Pollock Letters, ed. Mark DeWolfe Howe, New York Times, March 23, 1941, p. BR1, BR30), writes "Willa Cather moved him, 'unexpectedly and deeply.'"] Needs such kind comments now more than she did before. Was glad to hear about the house Elsie built in Lincoln. Agrees with Edith that it was a very intelligent decision. Also pleased that Elsie did not solicit her advice for the choice, as she understands little about the current conditions in Red Cloud and Lincoln. Willard Crowell persists in writing letters saying everything will work out and even persuaded her to let Witwer put a well in the Jewell County, Kansas, land after the creek ran dry. Ran a deficit because of it. Crowell seems to think she would be unfaithful if she did not pay the taxes on the land. This is all to illustrate how little she understands how things are in Webster County. . . . [pages 2 and 3 missing] PS: Sorry that she was so noncommittal about coming to Red Cloud for Christmas. Her hand has worsened rather than improved, and traveling is a real burden. Since she cannot commit to coming to Red Cloud soon, Elsie should do what she wants with the house. The orthopedist from Boston, who only comes to New York a couple of times a month, is the only one who has been heartening. Enjoy your new house. Willie
[included with letter are: 1) newspaper clipping announcing that Jervis Bay in New Brunswick has been chosen as the location for a memorial to Capt. Fogarty Fegen, 2) typed copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes's July 25, 1930, letter to Ferris Greenslet about Cather's work, 3) typed copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes's March 24, 1931, letter to Willa Cather] Is sending a review of the Holmes-Pollock letters from the New York Times [Henry Steele Commager, "Justice Holmes in his Letters," New York Times, March 23, 1941, p. BR1, BR30], and suggests Roseboro' read them. Is reading the volumes herself, and is enjoying the exchange between the two towering figures. Was thankful to be mentioned in the letters, and will send her a facsimile of the letter written to Ferris Greenslet regarding the book Roseboro' heroically supported. Is also including the text of the note he sent to Cather when he was ninety years old, though it cannot represent the beauty of his penmanship. Justice Holmes's secretary was the cousin of a San Francisco friend [May Willard?], and told the friend he read Shadows on the Rock to Holmes. Wants to tell her about the terrific joy she has gotten out of delighting old men who thrilled her years ago, like Thomas Hardy and James M. Barrie. Thinks Roseboro', someone who helped her when she was a foolish young person, would appreciate these fruits of her labor. P.S.: Hand is still useless. W.S.C.
The new pure gold medal is good-looking and quite big: a great paperweight! Will have it appraised at the bank. It's one kind of praise that actually has value! [In the fall of 1930, Cather received the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Death Comes for the Archbishop.] Is sending a New York Times editorial that correctly explains why Sinclair Lewis received the Nobel Prize ["Mr. Lewis's Nobel Prize," New York Times, 6 November 1930, p. 24]. Americans seem that way to Europeans, and those we've bullied like to read a critical account. They are probably right about us. Wrote Lewis and confessed that though she would have rather received the award herself, she's glad that if she didn't, he did. Many of the paper's readers mistakenly believe she won, and are sending requests for a share of the prize money. Is mailing a copy of the speech made by Judge Grant when she got the [Howells] award. Maybe he could consider sending it and clippings on to Elsie. Is so busy with other letters that she won't have time to write Elsie herself. George Whicher was going to bring Virginia and Tom up to Jaffrey to see her the first weekend in December, but her schedule has been changed by the medal ceremony. Will spend Thanksgiving with friends in Philadelphia, where she expects only a dinner, a room of her own, and privacy. Please send check to Grosvenor address. Willie.
The Times features more than one Cather! Well done! [Enclosed is a clipping from the New York Times on Sunday, October 25, 1931, with the article "Named in Dean's List at Smith College." The article lists Cather's niece, Virginia Cather] W.
Has he seen this satisfying editorial? Was good luck that the publication of "A Chance Meeting" coincided with the award. [Enclosed is "Topics of the Times" from the New York Times, Feb. 4, 1933, p. 14, with a reference to Cather's Prix Femina Americain award for Shadows on the Rock as well as the publication of "A Chance Meeting" in the Atlantic Monthly 151 (February 1933): 154-165.] W.
Has been busy, so hasn't written to the lonely Margaret as intended. Went to Virginia with Edith to ease struggle with bronchitis, and when she returned had many messages from the Menuhins. Last week Edith was injured in a car accident and has been bedridden since. Her lip will have a significant scar, but not as disfiguring as initially thought. Met Sidney Ehrman when she received an honorary doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley. He was President of the Board of Regents then, and they sat together at the alumni dinner. Though Yehudi's name didn't come up on that occasion, he and his father soon came to California and stayed with Mr. Ehrman. Saw them while there. Mr. Ehrman supported the Menuhins financially when they had very little, and he knows music himself. Mr. Ehrman committed to support Yehudi when the boy was only six years old, and he sent the family to France for Yehudi's education when he was ten. Though the Menuhins repaid the money some time back, they still feel indebted to Mr. Ehrman. He was a stalwart supporter for four years and really started Yehudi on his professional path. Though many praised Yehudi, Mr. Ehrman was the only one to back it up with his money. As to the current circumstances, was glad to get Roscoe's letter. Is consoled that Mr. Ehrman shares her opinion of these marriages; he knows them as well as anybody. Is particularly worried about the girls. Hepzibah and Yaltah write friendly, open-hearted letters, but they don't seem to understand the situation! They write as if getting married were like an exciting excursion. What does it mean? Is not as concerned about Yehudi, however. Even if his fiancée is the wrong woman, he won't be too affected. He is, at his core, pure music. Even if he could not play, the music would be with him always as a consolation. Music is within him the way great scenes from Shakespeare are within her: she feels every line as potently as if she recited it out loud. Yehudi thinks profoundly, though he doesn't show it off. She knew him for three years but did not understand the depth of his mind until they formed their Shakespeare Club. But he thinks about the world in the best way: he takes pleasure in small things. Naturally, Roscoe must keep these thoughts to himself. The newspapers love the Menuhins more than anybody, save the Lindberghs, and she worries that if she utters a word about them, she will read about it in the New York Times. Will write to Margaret soon. Hopes she doesn't marry before they can travel together. All of her young friends are leaving her! Willie.