#2608: Willa Cather to Manley Aaron, November 29, 1929

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My dear Miss Aron1:

My hesitation about letting Warner Brothers have the sound rights3 of "A Lost Lady"4 has been due partly to the fact that they offered me a very low price5 and partly to the fact that I do not want my name attached to dialogue written by some person whose name and ability I do not know.

Of course, if they would agree6 to make no further use of my name than to say at the beginning of the film “Adapted from the novel of that name by Willa Cather,” I believe I would feel no further hesitation in the matter and would let them have it at the price they offer. I would however want a signed statement from them that they would, in all the advertising, use that phrase - “Adapted from the novel by that name by Willa Cather” or “Adapted from Willa Cather’s novel.” In case they are not willing to confine themselves to this limited use of my name, I would certainly want to have something to say about the person who should write the dialogue for a sound picture. I am writing you this letter because I have just heard that an old friend of mine, Zoeë Akins7, who writes for the movies is still in Hollywood8. She is under contract at the Fox studio, I think; but the Warners might be able to make some arrangement to get her for the job, if they wished to take the trouble. Zoe Akins knows the period in which my story is laid, the part of the country9 in which it occurs and the kind of people who appear in it. Moreover, I feel pretty sure that she would do the best she could for me. You might send Warner Brothers a copy of this letter or extracts from it, and they could give you an answer. What they do not seem to realize is that I am absolutely unwilling to have the dialogue of the sound production written by some one I don’t know, and then have my own name used in connection with it.

Very sincerely yours, Willa Cather