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#1215: Willa Cather to Carrie Miner Sherwood, February 12 [1935]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Carrie1;

How often I wish for a quiet hour in which to write to you! Life gets more and more complicated for me all the time, more and more full of business detail, which means that I have so little time for my real work, and so little spirit for it. To work well, you know, I have to be carefree, have to get up in the morning feeling just as if I were thirteen and going for a picnic in Garber's3 grove.

This winter I have had a struggle to keep my books from being read aloud over the radio. The law does not protect me, it has to be done by personal persuasion. Then there has been a lot of tiresome detail about translation of my books into Danish4 and Italian5; the correspondence is now about two feet high! They are putting out beautiful boo editions, to be sure- - but I want to write new books. I rage and fume that the olds ones should be actual barriers in my way. I enclose a c telegram which was followed up by cables offering me my own terms and choice of date. I steadfastly turned down the invitation, because from the moment I accept an engagement of that kind, which has to be kept, sick or well, I cannot give my whole thought to the story in hand. It harrasses me like an unpaid debt. Alfred Knopf6 would not urge me, though of course my English publishers7 awfully wanted me to do it. Alfred understands the queer sor of mind I have, and he never drives me.


Of course the bright spot in the winter has been the Menhuin family8. They arrived two days before my birthday9, and the telephone began to buzz, and flowers poured into this apartment10 from each member of the family. Each sent his own favorite flowers, and the box from the father was so huge that Josephine11 had to dash out and buy more vases. They always lv live at the Ansonia hotel, just across the park from me, and we read Shakespeare12 together twice a week whenever Yehudi could be with us. Their minds are growing so by leaps and bounds that every meeting was exciting and , to me, beautiful. We did other things, too. Yehudi’s birthday13 came on the day of the blizzard14: I spent the morning coasting in the park with the three children15, ( Yehudi stores his sled here every winter). The blizzard was so fierce that the park was almost empty. We went back to the hotel at noon in high spirits to the luncheon his mother had prepared for Yehudi’s birthday (they have a big housekeeping apartment with a big kitchen) with all his favorite dishes and two bottles of champagne she had brought over in her trunks. Edith16, Sam Franko17 and I were the only guests. It was a lovely party, with the whole world outside lost in snow. Inside, perfect harmony!

Because I have loved you much and long, dear Carrie, I often wish I could show these dear children to you, for they really are one of the chief treasures of my life. I am sending you a letter from Hephzibah and Yaltah. The rather grown-up hand writing is Hephzibah’s, the round childish hand is Yaltah’s. ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Remember, this sweet, modest little letter was written after Hephzibah’s triumphs in Paris18 and London19! I send, with her letter, two London notices, but they were sent to me by Myra Hess20, not by the Menuhins. These notices you may show to Vernon21, but do not show Hephzibah's letter to anyone except Mary22, if she is at home. I show my heart to very few people in this spiteful, gossipy world. You will notice the Hephzibah’s English is a little queer, but that is because she so seldom speaks English, but French and Russian and Italian. That will all come right when they live on their newly-bought place23 in California24.

I said goodbye to them all nearly a week ago. They all went South with Yehudi. He starts on his world tour in June ., and the family goes with him!

Now I have told you some of the troubles of my winter, and its chief joy, dear Carrie, and I must stop, as I am going to have tea with Harold Samuel25, the pianist who plays Bach26 so beautifully. He wrote me that he wanted to talk to me about the "Archbishop"27, but what will we really want talk about? Why, about Yehudi and his sister! That’s what everyone wants to talk about; and praise for them, from their peers, is sweeter to me than anything else could be.

Lovingly always Willie

Please return Hephzibah’s letter and the notices.