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#0307: Willa Cather to Alverda Van Tuyll, May 24 [1915]

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In the first place, let me tell you how delighted I am that you get a thrill out of the story4, and in the second, let me tell you how I lament the costom of publishing photographs o of authorines. I meant to read "Men of Iron."5 The publishers sent me a photograph of the author6; fat woman with no neckneck,, big stupid face set on her shoulders. I'll never read it. Now, if I have a prejudice against her type of face, mayn't hundreds of people perfectly well have a prejudice against mine? I can see it, for actresses and singers; but authorines, for the most par part, possess countenances that do but discourage one with thei their wares.

If I had some good pictures taken down in the Cliff Dweller cities7, I could see that they might suggest a breeze to the onlooker. But I have only those you saw. The one you have reproduduced fairly well. I'm going to the big cliff ruins8 down at Durango, Colorado9, late this summer, and could have some taken, but that would be rather late for you, wouldn't it?

Now, in the meantime, do you want me to go to Dupont10 and strive for as good a conventional picture as possible, or do [illegible]you want NUMBER FIVE BANK STREETyou wish me to have Underwood and Underwood11 sleuth me to the Park and take me feeding squirrels or dongdoing folk–dances? How can an informal picture be interesting, unless it is taken in an in interesting place? I have some rather good ones take that weretof me and Fremstad12, that were taken up in the woods13 with last summer,; but those, of course, I couldn't let you have, unless I died; then you could come and ta take them.

Tell me what you want me to do, and I'll be as compliant as possible. Myself, I think the public prefers to think that authorines are tall, slender, and nineteen years of age.

Cordially yours Willa S. Cather

I hope you will put something like the enclosed slip on the jacket of the book. I think a jacket ought to announce interesting subject matter, where there is any to be announced. I thought the jacket of "Sinister Street"14 interesting—it promised a long sight more than the book delivered, but it made me buy the volume.