A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Bobbie [nickname for Elsie Cather]December 30, [1916]UNL-Southwick 

It was a good idea to make it to Chicago and have the party after all. Such excursions can be helpful. Jack did not come for Christmas, and she and Edith had a quiet day, nursing Edith's sick eye. Had dinner with Isabelle and Jan Hambourg Christmas Eve, and invited Joe Charter [?], a widower, and Sanborn, the New York Globe music critic, for dinner on Christmas night. Ended the night early, owing to Edith's eye. Had a wonderful Friday tea yesterday with about 30 people, including Alfred McClung and many friends from Pittsburgh in town for Christmas. Afterwards bolted to the Biltmore hotel to have dinner with Bostonian friends. Feels tired today, but still went to a concert with the Hambourgs. Had lunch on Wednesday with the pianist Harold Bauer, Mrs. Bauer, and the violinist Kreisler. Isabelle is wonderful at entertaining creative and famous people. Received two gorgeous Russian candelabras from Jan and Isabelle for Christmas, which cast a beautiful glow at tea on the new tea table. Best new things, though, are three terrific paintings of the Mediterranean and Ionian sea by Edith's friend Earl Brewster. The paintings are beautiful so large that framing them is going to be expensive. Brewster's paintings are typically selling for $200 to $500, and these are quite good. He said he they are not a gift but a long term loan. Has published a rather weak story in Harper's Monthly [ "A Gold Slipper" ], but got $450 for it, and is glad for the money: expenses are quite a bit higher than last year. Engough apples for a pie cost 25 cents, beef is 36 cents a pound, and chicken costs 42 cents a pound—$2.10 for a five pound chicken! Probably won't starve on Bank street, though.   Willie 

To Earl and Achsah Barlow BrewsterJanuary 7, 1917, from Number Five Bank StreetDrew U (Brewster 22) 

Adds this thank you to Edith's letter. Loves having Mr. Brewster's gorgeous painting "The Family by the Sea" in their home. Hopes the coming year will be productive for both the Brewsters.   Willa Cather 

To Achsah Barlow BrewsterFebruary 16, [1924?]Drew U (Brewster 22) 

Are having a terrific winter, and Montana is a wonderful housekeeper. Work is going well. Is in a wonderful state of mind—much better than in Paris. Did Achsah know that Edith received a $1,000 Christmas bonus and a raise in her salary? She is clearly appreciated by the firm [ J. Walter Thompson Company ]. Both Claude and A Lost Lady are selling well, so she and Edith are enjoying themselves heartily. Feels very good to be working, and is sure Achsah feels the same. Appreciates the vaporizer Achsah sent. Best to Earl and Harwood. It is wonderful not to be worrying over inconsequential things!   W.S.C. 

To Earl and Achsah Barlow BrewsterFebruary 21, [1923], from Number Five Bank StreetDrew U (Brewster 22) 

Has been wanting to respond to their letter about One of Ours, but was away at parents' Golden Wedding. They are right about Howard Pyle. The reception of the book has been unusual for her. Those who dislike it dislike it intensely, and many critics disparage it as sentimental, but former military men love it and are purchasing it. Has hired a secretary just to keep up with large and tiring amount of correspondence. Is pleased that the Hambourgs selected the "Blue Nigger" so she might see it another time. Appreciates the photograph they sent, but misses the color. Loves the paintings she and Edith have; "The Scallops" is now her favorite. Is leaving for France at the beginning of April and would love to see them in Paris. Hopes they write regularly to Edith. Must confess something delicate: Edith dislikes the Hambourgs, especially Isabelle. She was probably jealous that they were able to see the Brewsters when she could not. The Hambourg topic has been difficult for her and Edith, for they are wonderful friends of hers but upset Edith so. It is not Edith's fault; their characters simply clash. Edith believes the Hambourgs are condescending to her, but Cather doesn't see it. Hopes Edith can spend time with the Brewsters when they come to the United States in the summer, for that will ease the difficulty of Cather being away. Edith has experienced a difficult winter due primarily to family hassles. Will they do an exhibition in the United States? They should. Hope they received Edith's gift, one of which Cather also received in Red Cloud. Can't wait to talk to them soon and thinks often of their time together in Naples. Has been a trying and unproductive winter for her. Hopes they are well and that they can all be together soon.   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 

To Earl and Achsah Barlow BrewsterJuly 1, 1934Drew U (Brewster 22) 

Injured hand has kept her from writing to express her admiration for their book on D. H. Lawrence [D. H. Lawrence: Remembrances and Correspondence, London: M. Secker, 1934]. The book reveals a kinder aspect of Lawrence and is much more truthful than the rest, though Brett's was sincere in its way [Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1933]. Isabelle Hambourg writes that she feels it is the best book about Lawrence. Is going with Edith to Grand Manan the second week of July. Has been stuck in the city finishing her book which was, unfortunately, interrupted for months when her hand was so poor. Hopes to see them soon.   Willa Cather