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#1084: Willa Cather to M. A. De Wolfe Howe, November 11, 1931

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Mr. Howe1:

Yes indeed3, I beg you to destroy all my letters before you dispose of Mrs. Fields4' correspondence. There are very special reasons why I wish this to be done.

In the first place, those letters are entirely artificial and unrepresentative of me. Your feeling that they might be of some guidance to a future biographer is mistaken; they would only mislead him. Mrs. Fields was so new a type in my expenrience that I was never at ease in writing to her. I was always afraid of touching upon one of her prejudices, or in some way letting the noisy, modern world in upon her. So I always tried to write her long sentences that meant nothing. I remember perfectly well how I used to struggle to fill out a few pages and say nothing at all.

Of course, when I was with Mrs. Fields herself, I never felt any constraint; in fact, there were few people with whom one could be so unguarded. That was because she was the soloist and I the accompanist. How delightful it was to have her look up from the morning paper and ask gravely: "My dear, who is this Rex Beach5, has he to do with letters?"

But there was none of this genuineness and spontaneous pleasure in my letters to Mrs. Fields. They were written from a sense of duty - just because she enjoyed opening the morning mail. So if you will just ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ put them in the furnace, I shall be greatly obliged to you.

Always faithfully yours, Willa Cather

P.S. It has just occurred to me that the most satisfactory arrangement would be to ask you to send the letters in question to me, at the Grosvenor Hotel6, 35 Fifth Avenue, New York2, where I shall be stopping for a week or ten days. I will glance at them, and if there are any that seem to be more than mere formal evasion, I will return them to you for your collection.