A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Josephine K. Piercy [of New Haven, Conn.] [from Ellen Burns, secretary]Feb. 28, 1929Indiana 

Cather has gone to California and will not return for some time. Piercy may quote from "The Novel Démeublé" and (if Knopf gives permission) from The Professor's House but not from her letter. Should remind her, quoting from a letter without permission is illegal.   Ellen Burns, Sec'y.   [Stout #964]

To Whitney DarrowJan. 24, [1933]Princeton 

Accepts invitation to Friends of the Princeton Library dinner on May 4.[Others who accepted were Wilbur Cross, Robert Frost, Mr. and Mrs. Ira Gershwin, Ellen Glasgow, and Mr. and Mrs. Oliver LaFarge.]   Willa Cather   [Stout #1156]

To Mrs. Vanamee [ American Academy of Arts and Letters ]May 29, 1940AAAL 

Is honored to have been asked to serve on the nomination committee for the Howells Medal and would enjoy working with the other members of the committee [Ellen Glasgow, Stewart E. White, and Thornton Wilder] but feels too little acquainted with recent fiction to be able to contribute to the task. Has mostly been reading about 13th century France for several years.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1481]

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 Charles CatherSeptember 25, [1913], from the train ; UNL-Southwick 

Visited Mary Smith with Isabelle yesterday and brought roses. Though Mary looked bettered and is still sore, she was lively and talkative. She's much older now, but is still herself, and she sends greetings. Saw Walter Gore at the bank. He was civil, but not too friendly; did not invite her to visit his wife a block away. Father will recall that when Aunt Lillian Gore arrived from Europe with silver for Walter and his new wife, she was not treated very cordially, and she left for Washington very angry. Walter is fine: he isn't too concerned with his extended family and doesn't behave otherwise. Enjoyed seeing Jennie Smith, now Mrs. Garvin, in Gore [Virginia]. She's heavy and has hardly any teeth, but manages to seem distinguished nonetheless. She has seen many weddings and funerals, the most recent being Aunt Mary (Liza) Trone, who was a housekeeper for Captain Mure. Saw the old Captain—complete with fine white beard—on horseback as straight as ever. Spent a gorgeous day hiking to Anderson's Cove, seeing the wonderful view there for the first time. Talked with Ellen Anderson near her well-kept house and garden; she was eager to talk, and so serious about her claims to like city living that they dared not smile. Later, Ellen came down on horseback for another visit together. Saw Giles and Dorothy leave for the North River on their ancient boat; they returned dressed for winter, complete with fur cap and veil. They drove a fat, drowsy horse and carried some watermelons. Did not get to eat any before leaving. Giles will be pleased to see the seeds father sent; saw them in the post office. Sends love.   Willie 

To Mary Ellen ChaseNovember 23, 1929Smith 

Appreciates the invitation by Chase and President Neilson to lecture, but cannot accept due to travels this winter. After Christmas will be leaving to see mother in Pasadena. Hopes to stop in Northampton on the way to see nephew at Amherst and niece at Smith, and wishes to see Chase and Miss MacGregor as well to discuss Grand Manan plans. Thanks for sending "The Golden Asse". The book will travel west with her unless she has the chance to look at it sooner. Suspects that Virginia was nervous when Chase had her to tea.   Willa Cather 

To Annetta I. ClarkMay 20, [1933]Smith 

Though she thanks them for the offer of the suite in the Ellen Emerson House, she has already asked Mr. Whicher to reserve a room for Miss Lewis and herself in South Hadley. Other universities have always provided academic gown so does not own one and would appreciate Smith providing one. Will send measurements soon.   Willa Cather 

To Louise Imogen Guiney,  Thursday [summer 1910?] , from 82 Washington Place, New YorkHoly Cross 

Once was given a six-volume History of Architecture from a nice woman when was about to leave for Provence and the Rhone, and gives her now a volume as thick and weighty as those [probably Terry, Dame Ellen. The Story of My Life: Recollections and Reflections, New York: The McClure Company, 1908]. Ellen Terry must always be that way—like Portia in the lead casket [in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice]. Please read the book, but don't plan to travel with its bulk. Feel free to set it aside; Terry is accustomed to it and does not mind! Loved Guiney's "Happy Endings" [Happy Endings: The Collected Lyrics of Louise Imogen Guiney, Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1909], and takes much pleasure in each new poem Guiney publishes. Has been a fan for a dozen years. Has received many letters asking about who wrote "Love of Friends" [published in McClure's in May 1910], and, since they were so heartfelt, told them Guiney did. Please let her know if she encounters new good writers during her trip. Will be giving Guiney "absent treatment" regularly [a term from Christian Science describing the mental healing practice in which a practitioner attempts to cure an absent, afflicted person through directed thoughts] for the poetry habit.   Willa Cather 

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