Skip to main content

#0528: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, January 12, 1921

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
FG permd perm[illegible]
Dear Mr. Greenslet1;

After our last talk at the Brevoort4 I did not see Mr. Knopf5 for three weeks or more, but during this time I watched his advertising pretty carfully and decided that I would let him publish "Claude"6. My decision is based entirely upon the conviction that his publicity work is, for me, much more spirited and effective than Houghton Mifflin's has been. The publicity work he has done on this volume of short stories7 has helped me along very much indeed. The influence of the 'strong talk' on the jacket8 was perceptible in nearly all the reviews, and in his advertisements he did not hesitate to express an enthusiasm about my books which he says he quite genuinely feels. I have always believed that you have a strong liking for them, but your publicity department does not express this liking very convincingly.

I think you know that the publicity work is the only feature of my the Houghton Mifflin handling of my books that I have seriously found fault with. Perhaps in a few years I will not feel that an enthusiastic publicity department is s so vital to me. At any rate, I hope you won't feel that you must consider this departure a final break. I don't want to consider it as such. It is only a break with your publicity man or men9. I would like still to call you my publisher, if you don't mind, and maybe the next novel will be the Pittsburgh10 story11 you have always wanted. That you published my first novel12, and that you used to urge me to try my hand at long stories, long before that.,I do not forget. Just now I am really going away from your firm for Claude's13 health; because I feel so sure that he particularly needs 'presentation', a certain kind of publicity work. But, unless you see it otherwise, I shall refuse to say that I have 'left' you. I would like to say that I hvehave by no means left you, but that it is true that Knopf is going to publish this next book.

Mr. Knopf, by the way, has not heard these glad tidings, though I think I will try to see him tomorrow. No, I remember no that I shall be seeing him on Saturday evening at a party, and I'll tell him then that I'm going to let him try it out with this book.

You've always graoned a little at the War--as do I!--and a great deal about the West, and this novel is so wholly West and War14 that maybe you will feel a little relief as well as, I hope, some decent regret, at not having to be responsible for it. Anyhow, please don't lose interest in my humble affairs, please keep those of my books you have now on the market, and please don't reject the next novel I send you.

Always faithfully yours [missing]

When do you go to England15? I want to write you a personal letter before you go—that is, unless I can see you. Please let me know if you are to be in N.Y.2