Skip to main content

#0270: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, November 19 [1913]

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

Life and death and the things pertaining to both have kept me from writing. My Swedish cousin4, of whom I was very fond, died in Paris5 under an operation. Her husband6 made two terrible trips across the ocean and brought her body back on the “France,” the boat on which I saw her off in June. I went to Washington7 soon after he got back and spent some days with him.

I’ve been home2 a few days, and of course find a great deal to do, settling the apartment8 and making business arrangements. I’ll be glad when its over, for I am tortured by the temporary stop in work. “Tortured” is rather strong, come to think of it; It’s a bore to have to mark time, but I guess I’ll live through it. The new novel9 took a bound before I left Pittsburgh10, and I did about 28,000 words in four jolly weeks; did it twice, which means that it’s in almost final form. That was going some! As the wind blows now I could keep that pace up for some months to come. If only I could nail up the front door and live in a mess, I could simply become a fountain pen and have done with it—a conduit for ink to run through. And I like that well enough, too. I’m less trouble to myself than I am at any other time.

Have you seen the Singer article11 in the December McClures12? Fremstad13's “perfectly” delighted with it. Really, she says the most rewarding things about it—about the Farrar14 part, too, and she has not the least small quibble about my having gone into her Minnesota15 past. I do NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET think that large minded of her. “Mind?” says she “what’s the use of minding, when its the truth.” That’s the attitude for a perfect lady to take toward her biographer.

For goodness sake write and tell me all about yourself. Mrs. Fields16 begs me to come to Boston17; says she is pretty frail and tired these days. I do long to go, but I don’t see how I can until after Christmas. The world is certainly too much with me18 these days. I had the telephone disconnected, but all I got out of that was Fremstad wearing down her two-thousand-dollar Isolde19 vocal cords trying to get 2036 Chelsea, and always getting a Brewery! But send a poor sinner a line, do! I know I’m the lost chord myself, but I’ll come to the surface very soon now. Wasn’t it compromising to have Mr.20 Mabie20 say all those kind things21 about “O Pioneers”22? Him, of all folks!

I wish you were going to the Russian Dancers23 with me tonight. I’d give a good deal for a bit of an evening with you. Sometime you must let me tell you about my Swedish cousin. We were really and truly friends.

Yours very much W. S. C.

Mrs. Fields writes of the last naked woman24—they are all alike—on the McClure cover, “But Oh, this undesirable cover!” Undesirable! Nothing has pleased me so much for years! And Mackenzie25 feeling so happy and wicked all the time because he thought she was so lusciously desirable! Can’t you hear her say it “un-desirable”

Miss Elizabeth Se1[missing] 4 Hawthorn[missing] Brook3[missing] Mass. NEW YORK, N.Y. STA C.2 NOV 19, 1913 930 AM