A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Helen SpragueMar. 20, [1932?]WCPM 

Weather has been cold since she got back, but once she got over the flu has been going to concerts and operas. Sees Virginia about once a week. Despairing about the Lindberghs' baby! Police don't seem to be doing anything, and no one respects their privacy. When her child arrives, don't smother him with motherly doting. That ruins children.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1102]

To Helen [Sprague?]June 24, [1932?], from Grand MananWCPM 

Please write and tell her all about the baby. Lindberghs' ordeal only seems to get worse. What disgusting deception of them! Has been enjoying their quiet cabin and the cool, foggy weather.    [signature illegible]    [Stout #1114]

To Ferris GreensletNov. 30, 1935, from New YorkHarvard 

Arrived last week after a rough voyage that she enjoyed. Isabelle will never improve, but was feeling somewhat better than in the summer. Likes Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book [North to the Orient, 1935]. P.S.: Please send a copy of the Cape edition of The Song of the Lark.  Willa Cather   [Stout #1278]

To Mabel Dodge LuhanFeb. 5, 1936Beinecke 

Enjoyed her Christmas card, with its sprig of sage. Spent a very pleasant time in Italy latter part of summer after wearing herself out caring for a sick friend. Returned shortly before Christmas. Enjoyed the rough passage, but Edith so sick she had to be carried off the boat. Still hasn't caught up on her letters. Doesn't she like the Anne Lindbergh book!   Willa   [Stout #1295]

To Zoë Akins,  Friday [Oct. 29, 1936?] , from Jaffrey, N.H.Huntington 

Doesn't care for the manuscript; naturalism not Zoë's style. Recommends Anne Parrish's new novel. Is working well and feeling good. Edith Lewis coming tonight for a week.   W. S. C.   [Stout #1378]

To Roscoe CatherMarch 2, [1908] on McClure's Magazine letterhead, from BostonUNL-Roscoe 

Has been in Boston since January and is now, after a couple of weeks with Mrs. Deland, back in the comfortable, old-fashioned Parker House. Has been seeing many remarkable people, including Winthrop Ames, an arts patron interested in Ibsen who has an air of ennui and the grandson of Otis [actually, Oliver] Ames. Listening to him talk, one thinks of that rocky monument to the Ames brothers on the mountain [near Laramie, Wyoming], and knows that they were not bothered with ennui. Oh, well, it is difficult being one of the first generation of sophisticates—think of the talk they heard about the Troll Garden. Is sailing for Naples with Isabelle on either April 8 on the Carpathia or on April 11 on the Freiderich der Grosse. Itinerary includes Naples, Capri, and Pompeii, Rome, a 300-mile walk along the Mediterranean from Monte Carlo to Marseilles, Arles, Avignon, and finally Paris. Seems odd to go to Rome after its long life in her imagination and education. One could say that Rome, London, and Paris were the three main cities in Nebraska. May or may not stop at London; has letters of introduction to Kipling, Maurice Hewlett, Barrie, and Conan Doyle, among others, but is more interested in places and ancient ruins than people right now. By comparison with Roman civilization, our own looks pretty shabby. The Roman civilization is still preserved in southern France, where people still live as in Virgil's Georgics. Has bought Roscoe several excellent pictures in Boston: Van Dyck's self-portrait, The Windmill (old Dutch), The Song of the Lark by Jules Breton, Wyeth's Calling the Moose and Indian Hunter, "The Dinkey Bird is Singing in the Amfalulu Tree" by Maxfield Parrish, and Remington's Caught in the Circle, all for $16.23, which Roscoe now owes her. Hopes he and Meta like them. If he doesn't appreciate the Van Dyck, she will be angry, as she has one and loves it. It was Jessie who thought he would like The Song of the Lark. Would have preferred to send older French and Dutch images herself, but thought he might prefer these moderns. Does he like The Queen's Quaire?   Willie 

To Roscoe Cather [June 18?, 1931] , on letterhead of the Hotel Grosvenor, 35 Fifth Avenue, New York, NYUNL-Roscoe 

Has described events in a letter to mother, and asked that it be forwarded to him. Inform Margaret and Elizabeth that she sat next to Charles Lindbergh at the [Princeton University] president's dinner party, and that she had lunch with the Lindberghs the day following.   Willie. 

To Roscoe Cather May 23, 1938UNL-Roscoe 

Has been busy, so hasn't written to the lonely Margaret as intended. Went to Virginia with Edith to ease struggle with bronchitis, and when she returned had many messages from the Menuhins. Last week Edith was injured in a car accident and has been bedridden since. Her lip will have a significant scar, but not as disfiguring as initially thought. Met Sidney Ehrman when she received an honorary doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley. He was President of the Board of Regents then, and they sat together at the alumni dinner. Though Yehudi's name didn't come up on that occasion, he and his father soon came to California and stayed with Mr. Ehrman. Saw them while there. Mr. Ehrman supported the Menuhins financially when they had very little, and he knows music himself. Mr. Ehrman committed to support Yehudi when the boy was only six years old, and he sent the family to France for Yehudi's education when he was ten. Though the Menuhins repaid the money some time back, they still feel indebted to Mr. Ehrman. He was a stalwart supporter for four years and really started Yehudi on his professional path. Though many praised Yehudi, Mr. Ehrman was the only one to back it up with his money. As to the current circumstances, was glad to get Roscoe's letter. Is consoled that Mr. Ehrman shares her opinion of these marriages; he knows them as well as anybody. Is particularly worried about the girls. Hepzibah and Yaltah write friendly, open-hearted letters, but they don't seem to understand the situation! They write as if getting married were like an exciting excursion. What does it mean? Is not as concerned about Yehudi, however. Even if his fiancée is the wrong woman, he won't be too affected. He is, at his core, pure music. Even if he could not play, the music would be with him always as a consolation. Music is within him the way great scenes from Shakespeare are within her: she feels every line as potently as if she recited it out loud. Yehudi thinks profoundly, though he doesn't show it off. She knew him for three years but did not understand the depth of his mind until they formed their Shakespeare Club. But he thinks about the world in the best way: he takes pleasure in small things. Naturally, Roscoe must keep these thoughts to himself. The newspapers love the Menuhins more than anybody, save the Lindberghs, and she worries that if she utters a word about them, she will read about it in the New York Times. Will write to Margaret soon. Hopes she doesn't marry before they can travel together. All of her young friends are leaving her!   Willie. 

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