A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mrs. George WhicherJan. 24, 1944PM 

Sorry not to have written in so long. The world is all in distress, everyone's lives disrupted. All the young people in her family caught up in the war. Mary Virginia and husband, Dick Mellen, at Camp Carson in Colorado, and her brother at a camp in Arizona, one of the least attractive spots in the state. Enjoyed having Mary Virginia in town for a visit recently. Another niece's husband is commander of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Everyone lives in suspense. Will paste their Christmas card with picture of Beacon Street into Annie Fields's Memories of a Hostess. Doesn't understand why Boston has messed up the area around Trinity Church. Spent last summer in Maine; very comfortable in spite of poor food. Wishing them a happy new year. Willa Cather. P.S.: Has sprained right hand again and is back in Dr. Ober's brace.   [Stout #1657]

To Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant,  Thursday [Mar. 9, 1944?] UVa 

Glad she can come to dinner on Saturday March 18. Sorry for the sloppy handwriting, but hand still in the Ober brace.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1660]

To Frank H. WoodsJune 14, 1944 Beinecke, copy also at ; WCPM 

Was away in Quebec when his letter arrived. Enjoyed receiving it and remembering his mother. Glad My Ántonia reminds him of Nebraska. Many people did not like it at first, but those who did liked it very much, and it gradually gained momentum. Brought her into correspondence with Thomas Masaryk for eight years. It is rather formless but captures her feeling for the area.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1671]

To Sigrid UndsetJan. 6, 1945Oslo 

Her Christmas remembrance was very kind and forgiving. Has thought of her so often. Living conditions deteriorate more each day. Miss Lewis can't even get a taxi to take her to Brooklyn to see her two sisters. The problem of finding servants is acute; their capable woman comes from ten until two to clean and prepare lunch, but for dinner they must cruise about town in search of food, and poor quality at that. Has been working on a story that very much interests her, but last week her right hand gave out again and she is back in Dr. Ober's brace. Isn't very philosophical about it. Will soon send Undset an early book of hers, which she thinks Undset might like despite its grave faults, which appeared in Danish and Swedish [probably 1918 edition of My Ántonia].   [Stout #1690]

To Mrs. George WhicherJan. 31, 1945PM 

Was glad to hear from her at Christmas. Appreciates old friends' remembrances. Yes, it was reasonable for her to quit her job. Most people's jobs are wrecked now anyway. Spends much of her time and energy writing to soldiers in foxholes who have written to her after seeing one of the Armed Forces editions. Spent the summer at Northeast Harbor, Maine, enjoying a little work. Still has occasional problems with right hand. It is tied up in Dr. Ober's brace again now, so can't write by hand.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1696]

To Ferris GreensletMar. 29, [1946]Harvard 

Has finally finished reading The Practical Cogitator, first prose anthology she ever read. Enjoyed many of the individual selections, but wishes the book were shorter. Prefers to read people in historic context. Sorry for bad handwriting, but hand is in Dr. Ober's brace again. P.S.: Really, doesn't he think anthologies reflect superficiality in the times?  Willa Cather   [Stout #1730]

To Bobbie [nickname for Elsie Cather] [October? 1913] , from 1180 Murray Hill Avenue, Pittsburgh, PAUNL-Rosowski Cather 

Is working hard after two weeks in Virginia, and Isabelle is preparing for her sister Edith's wedding.� Pleased Elsie is doing some horseback riding.� Wishes to get back to beautiful Nebraska.� Sending a review from the Nation [97 (4 Sept. 1913): 210-211].� Likes beating out Norris and Phillips [Nation reviewer compared O Pioneers! to their work].   Willie 

To Elsie CatherMay 26, 1939UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Thanks for the letter about Easter in Red Cloud. It gave her a sense of being there among old friends herself. Has been thinking deeply about the other part of Elsie's letter—even took the letter to the Catskills to consider it. Has changed her previous position on the matter: Elsie should sell the house in Red Cloud and move to Lincoln if she wishes. Roscoe wrote a letter arguing why he felt Elsie ought to move to Lincoln, but she was already convinced. Had worried that Elsie would rashly get rid of something personally valuable, as she seemed to be so excited about renovation plans. Much of Elsie's correspondence over the years about the house seemed very animated, and she had disparaged Mrs. Frank Smith's decision to move away to Lincoln. Really believed Elsie loved the place. Now realizes how much has altered and how many people have left. Even the weather seems different (though Lincoln won't be much better). Elsie ought not to be burdened with the house for the sake of Douglass and herself. It will be a solace that the house wasn't sold before Douglass's last trip to Red Cloud. Will pay $250 a year on taxes as long as necessary, but wants Elsie to feel free to sell it. The old friends that appreciated Elsie's efforts are now mostly gone, anyway. If she herself were younger, would purchase it without hesitation. Elsie can get rid of it any way she chooses. Perhaps it would be easiest to leave it vacant and let drifters burn it down. At least it stood there for Douglass until the end.   Willa 

To Mrs. Frank Grippen of Spokane, WashingtonJanuary 14, 1931, from the Grosvenor, New YorkDrew U (Caspersen 53) 

Sorry for slow response. Oswald was Myra Henshaw's "mortal enemy" [in My Mortal Enemy]. She saw such powerful love as spoiling one's internal peace, and that simply is what the novel is about.   Willa Cather 

To Achsah Barlow BrewsterNovember 29, [1923?], from Number Five Bank StreetDrew U (Brewster 22) 

Had a wonderful voyage home and enjoyed the company of Frank Swinnerton on the ship. Does not smoke much when at sea, so Edith will get a good many of Earl's cigarettes—and all the chocolate, too. Tried to describe their wonderful exhibition to Edith, but cannot articulate the power of Achsah's Ceylon paintings or Earl's sailors. Dorothy Canfield saw her off and raved about the exhibition, particularly Achsah's triptych. Sends love to Harwood.  Willa 

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