A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To the Very Rev. Francis R. Lee [Dean of St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral], n.d. [Nov. 1935?] pub. Hastings [Nebr.] Daily Tribune Dec. 2, 1935, quoted in full in Bohlke

Please convey greetings to Bishop and Mrs. George Beecher on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his consecration as bishop. Wishes she could be there on November 30. He has affected the lives of many people.   [Stout #1277]

To Bishop George Allen Beecher,  Ash Wednesday, 1939 [Feb. 22]HSNeb 

Thanks for his letter at Christmas. Still remembers the time he came to her apartment for dinner on Ash Wednesday. He has meant a great deal to her family. Sorry to hear about the injury to his eye. Always wishes the best to him and Mrs. Beecher.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1437]

To William Lyon PhelpsMay 29, 1943Beinecke 

Appreciates his telling her J. M. Barrie's comment about A Lost Lady. Had little direct contact with Barrie because of his shyness. First heard through another person that he liked Death Comes for the Archbishop. Then heard he would like autographed copy of My Ántonia. A similar pleasure was hearing through Stephen Tennant that Thomas Hardy's widow said Hardy liked A Lost Lady.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1630]

To Bishop George BeecherMar. 12, 1947, transcription made by Bernice Slote ; UNL 

Was grieved to learn of the death of Mrs. Beecher. Delayed writing until sufficiently recovered from the strain of her right hand to do so by hand. Does not write to many people in Red Cloud any longer, but does write to Carrie Sherwood and Mary Creighton and to Sidney Florance and his wife. Glad the hospital board is making such a good use of her family's old home. Some of the people in the country out from Red Cloud have written telling her how kind her mother was to them when they came to town. These are the memories one cherishes. Prays that he can bear up under the loneliness that has come to him.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1754]

To Mary Virginia CatherSunday [April 1928?], from the Kahler hotel, Rochester, MinnesotaUNL-Southwick 

Just arrived and will soon go to the [Mayo] clinic. The Kahler has been remodeled and is nicer than the Zumbro. Spoke at length about her with Elsie in Lincoln, and they decided that they will help out any time she wants to come. Will definitely be there herself if Elsie isn't able to arrange a year off. Lawn and shrubs of the yard are doing well. Is hiring Amos [?] to tend to the grass, and he and Floyd Twinnse [?] are going to plant tough zinnias where father had his flowers. The entire place will be pleasant and inviting, and Elsie's school is off in early June, so mother could return with Will Auld then. Lizzie is very willing to get the house in order. The Bishop and his wife think the house is lovely, and mother's friends want to see her again. Their devotion to mother is so touching; longs to return to Red Cloud herself—really! Mother should not despair, for she is better off than most her age, and her children are there for her. Aging is not easy, but her loving children and friends are committed to making her content.   Willie 

To Florence Pearl EnglandSeptember 10, 1896, on Home Monthly letterhead ; Drew U (Adams 139) 

The drawing she sent is all right, but not as good as previous ones. Can she make a few alterations? Please remove Mademoiselle DeKoch's hat; singers never wear them to concerts. Also, DeKoch and Buchanan both look different than they did in the last illustration, so please adjust that. Need the drawing by September 18, so if she can't or won't make the revisions, please send it back as is. Is sending the previous sketch to help her make the new one more consistent with it. P.S.: The tone of the drawing is right, but Buchanan and DeKoch just seem different. Please don't think her too picky. She will certainly sense the difference in quality herself.  Willa Cather 

To Robert FrostJanuary 20, [1916], from 1180 Murray Hill Avenue, PittsburghDartmouth 

Wishes she could be in New York for the Poetry Society banquet, but cannot. Regrets missing the opportunity to meet him and Mrs. [Elinor Miriam White] Frost. Wonders if he ever chanced to meet Miss Jewett. Has often thought, if she had lived to see them, that Frost's books would have been a great encouragement to her in a world full of poets like Witter Bynner and Phoebe Snow. Unfortunately, Frost's fellows in the Poetry Society are so wound up in the ideal of "free verse" that they can't distinguish a line by him from one published in a rural newspaper. They don't even know enough to dislike Florence Earle Coates or Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Many of the so-called "poets" seem to be so just to make Miss Rittenhouse happy. Thankfully, the success of junk only damages things in the short term. Fears that if she ever attended a meeting of the Poetry Society she would be unable to suppress her opinions, and begs Frost to keep them private. Since poetry needs publicity as much as anything else, perhaps the Rittenhouse crowd will actually help Frost somewhat. Anyhow, more subtle methods can still succeed. Has shown many of his poems to others, including "The Mountain," "Mowing," "Going for Water," and "The Tuft of Flowers," and no one needs to have them explained, nor has anyone's sensibility been altered because, in Mr. Masters's words, "the hammock fell/ Into [sic] the dust with Milton's poems [sic]" [from Masters's poem "Many Soldiers" in Spoon River Anthology]. Not everyone believes that is symbolic!   Willa S. Cather