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#0719: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, February 27 [1924]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Dorothy1:

Your letter came at the happiest time for enjoying letters–I was, and still am, in bed: partly because of a stiff neck, and partly because that I saw that a stiff neck would let me out of three dreaded pleasures; a song recital by an old friend, the first night of an old friend’s play, and a literary dinner. Your letter came just when my splendid darkey maid3 was bringing me my tea, and it made a tea-party for me. How I have enjoyed these days in bed! You remember when I was a youngster I couldn’t bear solitude at all–and now I can bear about nothing else! Isabelle4 has written me all about your mother5, and I rejoice in her activity. I’ve written my mother6 all about her. By this boat I’m sending Isabelle an account of how they crowned my photograph7 with a “laurel wreath” in Red Cloud8! I’m just childish enough to be awfully pleased. It means I’ve kept their affection, really.

I’m so glad you remember our walk and our morning in Paris9 with pleasure–I do, with deep pleasure and gratitude. I wish I could have been with you all in Switzerland10. I’d love that.

Oh, I’ve read “The Doctor Looks at Literature,”11 and I delight in it–especially the chapters on Lawrence12 and Proust13. Do read Mme. Curie14's life15 of her husband16, and the admirable sketch of her own life, Dorothy.

All winter I’ve been getting the nicest love letters from young boys. I’ve begun to save them—they are quite different from other admiring-reader-letters. I suppose actresses get a great many such, but I don’t believe writers often do. In my college days it was the girls, not boys who wrote to authors.

No, Bakst17 doesn’t spoil my life anymore–though he did cloud a good many months of it. Mother is the one worst hit, poor dear! She goes on moaning as if I’d done something disgraceful myself! Sure, it’s like the Purple Cow–I’d rather see than be one. But she won’t consider it that way.


I’m beginning to select material for a new collection18 of Miss Jewett19, in accordance with a promise made years ago. Houghton Mifflin are so anxious to prevent me from producing copy for Knopf20 that they are even willing to spend a little money on Miss Jewett, if they can ha distract me from other activity!

Poor Knopf, anyhow! Just when he has got his booksellers where they can sell most any old book I do about the West, I refuse to have anything to do with the West, but have gone charging off on certain stories21 of embarrassing length–or shortness–that have nothing to do with locality–or geography whatever! My familiar spirit is like an old wild turkey that forsakes a feeding ground as soon as it sees tracks of people–especially if the people are readers, book-buyers. It’s a crafty bird and it wants to go where there aint no readers. That’s the truth: they go and paw a place all up and spoil it for me. It isn’t my secret any more.

Write me again, dear Dorothy. It gives me so much pleasure. Now my stiff neck—I really have one—rebels at a writing posture, and I must stop, with my love to you and my blessing on you all.

With my love Willa

Is your yellow cat a Tom or a lady? I took a great fancy to her–or him, and I’d like to know.