A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Miss LaneDec. 21, 1925UVa 

Sorry she can't send a short story, but hasn't written one since "Uncle Valentine." Prefers working in the novel form, and has now begun a new one.   Willa Cather   [Stout #813]

To Gertrude Battle Lane [of Woman's Home Companion]Feb. 28, 1933LC 

Doesn't have anything to offer. Has done little except get settled in new apartment. Will hope to get back to a long story she was working on [prob. Lucy Gayheart], and if so will ask Mr. Knopf to send it to her.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1167]

To Miss Walker [for Margaret Cousins]Feb. 17, 1936HRC 

Appreciates the invitation, but doesn't write many short stories and gives Lane [of Woman's Home Companion] the first chance at them.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1296]

To E. K. BrownApr. 12, 1947Beinecke 

Still doesn't have definite plans for summer, but will not go to California as expected. Instead, to Northeast Harbor, Maine. Hopes to be able to work some. Agrees it is good for young people to go to France, but only if they are the right kind of young people. Once saw the kind that clustered around Gertrude Stein, and not one of them has amounted to anything. Not people of force; some actually wore bracelets! Found a great force of life in John Steinbeck's play The Moon Is Down, but wishes he hadn't used a long quotation from Plato as the climax. Will let him know when she is leaving for Maine as soon as she knows.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1758]

To Elsie Cather [January? 1935] UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Expected to hear that Elsie had been struggling with wintry weather, but her letter was tenderly beautiful.� Elsie gave Bess a lovely funeral.� How appropriate to have a Christmas tree as Bess decorated so many for children.� Would have liked to have been there.� Read Elsie's letter repeatedly and then sent it to Virginia, but directed her to return it.� Elsie paid the debt all the Cather siblings owe to Bess.� Wants to pay for the roses and any remaining funeral expenses.� Will ought to have whatever money Bess left.� Life is hard to understand:� deserving people get such small rewards.� Gave Mrs. Lambrecht and Annie [Pavelka?] good holidays and purchased winter feed for Annie's stock.� Sent fifty dollars to Jack, wrote the Bishop and Mollie and Gertrude Coon, and gave nieces ten dollars each.� Is enclosing a historical Christmas card from the Society Library. Happy New Year.   Willie 

To Roscoe Cather,  Sunday [August 20, 1916] , on 5 Bank Street letterhead, but written from Red CloudUNL-Roscoe 

Hasn't had a minute to herself until now. Had to give a talk at Gertie Coon's Institute. Loves to play with West Virginia—such a lovely, fascinating child. Virginia's grandmother pretends to be a disciplinarian, but really spoils her. Virginia has seemed to want to go home only once, when she saw father without his dentures and started crying. Virginia will be a challenge to raise as she is headstrong and doesn't have a good sense of priorities: will ruin an entire picnic because she couldn't wear a particular ribbon in her hair, though in fact she is indifferent to hair ribbons and loves the idea of the picnic. She seems unable to give in. However, after a big fight with her grandmother about whether it is acceptable to play in the rain barrel while wearing a nice white dress, she is pleasant and not bitter. And Douglass agrees that she has such a delightful voice. Roscoe ought to be firm with her when she gets passionate over small matters. People who lack proper perspective live muddled lives. However, that's really the only improvement she needs. Otherwise, she is very appealing: a smart girl, who will likely respond to guidance. Her grandmother won't be any help, though, as so many of her days have also been spoiled over trifles. Mary Virginia and Tom, despite their upbringing, know they can't be bothersome or they won't be tolerated by their adult aunts and uncles. Doesn't have any idea what Jim's plans are—who could?—, but they should let Virginia stay awhile. Everyone enjoys her company. Loves seeing the way their unsentimental mother keeps looking in on Virginia after she is asleep. Misses Margaret and Elizabeth very much and wishes they could read letters. Please get copies of the photographs of her with the twins made soon so she can mail them to people like Jack and Isabelle. Felt so bleak when she first went to Lander and left feeling revived. The twins took her mind off problems, and taking horseback rides with Roscoe was invigorating and heartening. Had secretly feared that she and Meta would not get along, but found it a real pleasure to become friends with her. Was so relieved, and really feels now that she and Meta could be companionable even on a long trip with the twins. Should have come to Lander long ago. Misses the twins terribly. Wonders if they enjoy Isabelle's gift of a stuffed bear? P.S. Remember to send the pictures!  Willie.