She always sends the best flowers! These Roman hyacinths remind her of original of the Lost Lady [Mrs. Garber]. Can she come to dinner on Friday the 21st? Willa [Stout #1244]
No, Thea Kronborg was modeled on a singer; was well acquainted with her. Yes, much of the required reading in schools was dull, such as Silas Lapham and The House of the Seven Gables. Doesn't agree that Silas Marner is dull, despite slow pace. Conveys much of England itself. Willa Cather [Stout #1649]
Has kept hoping to write a letter by hand, but has been in brace since December 16. Is afraid of losing the story she was enjoying working on. Cries every time she reads her letter. In the early days, when making her living in newspaper work or teaching and sending money to family, wrote for the joy of it. Over the years has managed to recapture many happy memories by writing. The world has been good to her, but Red Cloud has not. Hard to believe Helen McNeny would lecture on Granville Hicks, who built his career attacking her, in the Auld Library! Naturally, this delights people in Red Cloud who like to spend their time figuring out where she got everything in her books. Truth is, most of the time doesn't know— they just came to her, without her even realizing she wasn't making them up. Remembers how angry Mrs. Fred Garber was about A Lost Lady; she told Douglass she ought to have sued. Never meant to write about Mrs. Garber, but in the shock of learning of her death the story came to her. Wrote an honest recording of feelings she evoked. Mustn't show this letter to the likes of Helen Mac! Willie [Stout #1689]
Going south soon to see friends near Marseilles. Sends love to Jim and children. Willa Cather
Is sending humble Christmas cards because Grand Manan friends need help. Carpenter sick with grief after his son's suicide, and Willie Thomas lost everything in a house fire. The people of the island have contributed materials and labor to rebuild his house. Doesn't see Virginia and Margaret very often, though they are in Boston. Attempting to finish a book that was unfortunately delayed by the deaths of Douglass and Isabelle. Glad Helen is near Garber grandparents. Much love. Aunt Willie
Is pleased that Elsie had a fulfilling summer, but hopes she will relax now and revel in accomplishments. Appreciated Bessie's lengthy letter—read it several times—but wishes she would use a soft lead pencil. Elsie was kind to welcome Ethel [Garber Cather, sister-in-law] and her children; Helen Louise and Charles Edwin surely had a fine time. Is very glad Charles got on with Jess and her sons [William Thomas Auld and Charles Auld]; he is very sensitive. Used the incorrect name [in the short story "Two Friends"] to describe the astrological phenomenon which she saw in 1893 from the Wieners' porch, and scientists are in a tizzy. Proper description is "occultation" of Venus, not "transit." The second printing [of Obscure Destinies] is revised. Heard about it first not from an astronomer but from the omnipresent Professor Phelps of Yale University. Enclosed is his response to Cather's acknowledgment, which Elsie may destroy after reading.
Thanks for the letter about the baby [probably Mary Virginia Auld, niece, born November 11, 1905], who likely had a rich Christmas. Had a good trip to New York, but unfortunately was too busy to see the Wieners. Will someday show Bess the beautiful dress she bought for the dinner [Cather attended a dinner at Delmonico's in New York celebrating the 70th birthday of Mark Twain in December 1905]. Auntie Gore's letter said that Douglass Clark has nine children, that Perry's kids are living in Winchester and Walter works at a bank, and Howard Gore's wife is wintering in Switzerland and sending Sidney to school there. Auntie doesn't seem to enjoy their living abroad. Was good of Alec Bentley to visit his father. Is Mrs. Governor Garber still in Red Cloud? Sends affection to everyone, particularly the baby. Tell Mollie hello and please write and get Jess to write, too. PS: Is wearing garters Jess gave her. Received many Christmas gifts, including silk stockings, a leather bag, a pin, hand-embroidered clothing, and books. Willie
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.
Is grateful for the handkerchiefs from them and the fruit from their parents [James and Ethel Cather]. Had a joyful Christmas with lots of music, but unfortunately Aunt Elsie has not had such a nice holiday. Sends much love and wishes them both a Happy New Year. Aunt Willie
The coat is in the mail. Thinks it's lovely. If it doesn't fit, send it back to Lord and Taylor with instructions for Miss Dust in the cloak department. Lord and Taylor is a dependable store. Consider a hat to match the coat. She and Edith deliberately selected a classic style; idiosyncratic styles will soon look foolish. Helen Louise will love Ethel's getting the coat more than she would getting anything of her own—so the gift is from her, too! Willie