A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Irene Miner WeiszJan. 6, 1945Newberry 

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]

To Henry Goddard LeachMay 25, 1932Drew U (Adams 162) 

Received letters and thanks him for his sensitivity. The review [Granville Hicks, "Bright Incidents," Forum, September 1931, vi-vii] she discussed in the letter [see #1842] is the only one that ever hurt her personally. Thought the Forum was a friend even though business perspectives seem to overtake everything. Review will not inspire controversy, though, for a writer must not become defensive in print about her work. Has gotten over the whole thing. The two of them should get together to toast Mr. Hicks, or whatever his name is.   Willa Cather 

To Henry Goddard LeachSeptember 1, [1931]Drew U (Adams 162) 

It is not a review she wrote about, but an essay evaluating her writing and character generally [Granville Hicks, "Bright Incidents," Forum, September 1931, vi-vii]. People seem to think the piece reflected Leach's and the Forum's viewpoint, for Hicks was not cited in letters they have sent her. Understands an unobtrusive editorial relationship, but this went too far. At McClure's, would never have let such a destructive article be published, and no staff member would have let it through without explicit approval from Mr. McClure or herself. It is possible to be civilly critical, but the piece is so disrespectful that it never should have been published. The Forum is free to think what it pleases, but what editor can justify printing the following [Hicks's text is literally cut out and pasted on the letter]: "Like most of her books, it is elegiac, beguiling its readers with pictures of a life that has disappeared, and deliberately exploiting the remoteness of that life in order to cast a golden haze about it." "Deliberately exploiting" suggests she is manipulating her readers for self-aggrandizing reasons, and she is not. Other reviewers, like Dr. Cross, don't particularly care for the novel [Shadows on the Rock], but at least have enough sophistication to see what she was attempting [in Wilbur Cross, "Men and Images," Saturday Review of Literature 8 (August 22, 1931): 67-8]. The Forum's piece certainly damages her reputation, but even worse, it injures her personally, as the Forum has always been a friend. Is sorry that first letter of complaint sent to an editor is being sent to him.   Willa Cather