Skip to main content

#0095: Willa Cather to Will Owen Jones, March 6, 1904

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text
My Dear Mr. Jones1;

That was a ringing slap you gave me in your more or less personal column6. I wonder whether you really mean it7, or whether it was for the benefit of the Red Willow8 contingent? I never even had an idea of disparaging the state. One morning last Spring I got a letter from just such a woman in Western Nebraska9, that afternoon I happened to go to a Wagner10 matinee, and the story11 was all worked out before I left the hall. I simply used the farm house we used to live in and a few of my recollections of life there. It is so beastyly true that my own family are quite insulted--they say it isn’t nice to tell such things.

Now my good friend, how could I have explained that years of prosperity had followed the pioneer days, and didn’t I take the pains to date the story back in the pioneer times? A story is but a personal impression, a sort of mood, anyhow, it isn’t a real estate advertisement nor yet a “roast” for any particular locality. Perhaps it was a mistake to use the name of an actual county, I shall change that in the book12 proofs. This is not for publication, nor yet to protest against what you had to say -- you have said so many agreeable things that I should be a very thin skinned individual if I pouted. But I should like you to know that I had no spiteful intentions and did not mean to throw any slurs cheap slurs upon the state. I though everyone admitted that those pioneer days were desolate, and I was misguided enough to think the story a sort of respectfult tribute to the courage of those uncomplaining women who weathered them. Farm life in that territory when I knew it fifteen years ago was bad enough, what must it have been before?

I have about decided to delay the publication of the “Troll Garden” until next fall, as we have arranged for serial publication for a number of the stories and they will not be cleared up until then. Maybe it will relieve you to know that the one under discussion is the only Nebraska tale in the lot.

Willa S. Cather
Mr. Will Owen Jones1 Nebraska "State Journal"3 Lincoln4 Nebraska PITTSBURG2 MAR 7 1904 Willa Cather. LINCOLN, NEB.4 MAR 9 1904 8—AM