A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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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 Alice Corbin HendersonNov. 8, 1927LincCity 

Gives permission to use "Spanish Johnny" but only as printed in April Twilights, not the garbled version in the anthology edited by Harriet Monroe. Is glad she likes Archbishop. Many people don't because they find it defies classification.   Willa Cather   [Stout #908]

To Josephine GoldmarkMar. 3, 1931PM 

Had hoped to have a talk with her, but must rush off to California. Liked her book [Pilgrims of '48: One Man's Part in the Austrian Revolution of 1848, and a Family Migration to America, 1930]. Enjoyed the presentation of the Brandeis family as well as the Goldmarks. Has enjoyed knowing immigrant families in Nebraska and seeing how their lives flowered.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1043]

To Dr. Merores [?]Jan. 16, 1933UVa 

Sorry to hear he began a German translation of Death Comes for the Archbishop without her agreement or a publisher. Arranging for translations is very complicated and time-consuming. Mr. Knopf handles it all for her. Interesting that he knows Mrs. Brandeis. Once knew Judge Brandeis fairly well, and his sisters Pauline and Josephine Goldmark are dear friends. Can't help find a publisher for his translation.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1150]

To Pauline GoldmarkApr. 18, [1933], from 570 Park AvenueWCPM 

Could she and Josephine [Goldmark] come to tea on Saturday the 22nd at five?   Willa Cather   [Stout #1172]

To Elizabeth Shepley SergeantNov. 27, 1940PM 

Sending an advance copy of Sapphira and the Slave Girl but can't autograph it because of strained tendon of right thumb. Please give her best wishes to Pauline and Josephine Goldmark.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1507]

To E. K. BrownOct. 7, 1946Beinecke 

Reply has been delayed by repairs of apartment. Greatly appreciates his insightful reading of her work and generally agrees with his judgments. Is not writing much nowadays because low in spirits since the deaths of her brothers Douglass and Roscoe. Yes, Death Comes for the Archbishop is her best. It was hard to find a structure to pull together so many disparate elements in the Southwest. It simply came to her one day when watching the sunset color the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that the essence of the early Southwest was the story of the missionaries from France. Devoted herself to research on it from that day. Mary Austin claimed the book was written in her house, and now a woman named Wheelwright claiming it was written in hers. Actually, mostly written in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Has always felt disappointed with O Pioneers!. Tried to put together the Norwegian and the French settlers, and they never mixed. Once, not long after it was published, met Louis Brandeis on the street and he told her that what he most liked about the novel was its sincerity of feeling for the place and people. Said that one of the writers in whom he did not find that sincerity was Edith Wharton. Never saw him again. Probably he didn't find her own next two books sincere either. Kept working and trying to learn. Believes Brown underestimates the early railroad builders; Jim Hill, for example, a person of great imagination and personal quality. Never gave great care to language per se in her books, but tried to let the language come to her that would express feeling for the subject. Is pleased by his praise of My Mortal Enemy. Agrees that Lucy Gayheart isn't very good, except in the last part, after the Gayhearts themselves are dead and the book centers on the effect they have in the businessman's memory. Wishes she'd had a better sense of form earlier in her career.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1741]

To E. K. BrownJan. 24, 1947Beinecke 

Does not yet know plans for spring and summer. Anticipates being in California for part of that time to see two brothers [Jack and James]. Will hope to meet with him when he is in town. Would have many things to talk about—such as the new edition of Shakespeare that cuts out what the editor considers unimportant. Does not want writers like John Dos Passos to be legally stopped from writing as they want, but wishes law would stop editors who tamper with classics. Brandeis's death a great loss to the work of the Supreme Court. Spent many evenings at his home during years in Boston and often saw the Brandeises at the opera. Was introduced to Mrs. James T. Fields by Mrs. Brandeis, who was a fine and intelligent woman in her own right. Life sometimes seems dreary when one thinks about the people who have gone. Remembers William Archer well; remembers being in Lady Gregory's box with him the night the Abbey players made their London debut. Saw Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Archer helped open her mind to new kinds of theatrical drama. Looks forward to discussing their personal values when he comes to New York.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1749]

To Roscoe Cather, February 13, 1910 on McClure's Magazine letterhead ; UNL-Roscoe 

Has had a crazy winter too, but unlike Roscoe's it wasn't from weather. Has had to deal with all kinds of problems while Mr. McClure in Europe. Was ill with bronchitis in December, and Isabelle came to nurse her. Even then had to work on the magazine, for magazines, like sick infants, have to be constantly fed. Thankfully she had the Russian material and the Paoli article [Xavier, Paoli, "Recollections of the Shah of Persia," McClure's Magazine 24.5 (March 1910): 525-538] that she secured when in England. Is improved now, but still has to rest and consume milk like a child. Has had good success with the the magazine, however; profits up $60,000 from the previous year. Doesn't get any of that money herself, but does get praise. Do read the March issue, as she worked hard on it, and definitely read "A Joint in the Harness" ["Ole Luk-Oie" {pseudonym of Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton}, "A Joint in the Harness," McClure's Magazine 24.5 (March 1910): 547-557], which she got in England. Would appreciate his telling her what pieces he likes and doesn't like; it's helpful when people tell her their reactions forthrightly. Certainly doesn't like everything that gets published herself! Has written Mrs. Goudy and Mrs. Fulton. Thanks for the silk stockings at Christmas. Has he seen darling Mary Virginia since she started talking? Has received a letter from Aunt Franc; enjoyed visiting with her, Auntie, and Bess last summer. Loves that far-off, quiet country. If health permits, will go to England in May, and wishes Roscoe could go, too, as she longs for a good talk with him. Wishes she could come out to Lander, but job is very demanding—more so than running Sandy Point. What has become of Jim Yeiser, anyway? Can't get into one letter all the interesting things she'd like to tell him. Will shrug off the office and catch a train west one of these days.   Willie 

To Roscoe CatherJune 23 [1917], on W.S.C. letterhead, from Red Cloud, NebraskaUNL-Roscoe 

Has neglected to answer his letter with story of Virginia's tooth, which she told to all of her New York friends. Quickly came west because the University of Nebraska presented her an honorary Doctor of Letters on their fiftieth anniversary commencement. Edith Abbott, who works with Jane Addams, also got one. The two of them were the first women ever to receive such degrees from the University. John Neihardt also received the award, and the Doctor of Laws was given to Theodore Roosevelt, Roscoe Pound, and General John J. Pershing. Elsie was already there, but father drove to Lincoln for the sole purpose of attending the ceremony. So sweet of him! Barnard McNeny also attended. Was happy to see her old teachers so proud of her. Only twelve or so women have received honorary degrees in the U.S., most of them educators, like Alice Freeman Palmer and Jane Addams. Any chance there would be someplace to rent in Lander between July 15 and August 15? She and Edith Lewis are thinking that when Edith comes west, they may go to Wyoming. Couldn't stay with at his house, as Edith doesn't like visiting. At $5 a day the Amoretti ranch seems overpriced. Unfortunately, getting the degree meant that she never was able to shop for new dresses for the twins as she intended. Will get them New York dresses soon. P.S. Father and Elsie are doing well.  Willie. 

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