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#1707: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, May 9, 1945

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FG Dear F. G.1,

Thank you for your kind letter3. I am naturally pleased that the two books4 you mentioned hold up so well. Probably O Pioneers5 would do just as well, if Houghton Mifflin had not seen fit to sell many hundred copies at one dollar apiece some fifteen or twenty years ago. You remember your business office was then very keen for selling Antonia6 in Liggett's Drug Stores at one dollar a copy, and I managed to save Antonia by substituting7 O Pioneers. I think my judgment has been supported by subsequent developments.

Now to the real purpose of this letter. Can you tell me whether Ford Madox Ford8 is still living? He wrote and circulated9 a very false and silly story10 about a visit which Isabel McClung11 and I made to Housman12 long ago, when I was twenty-four and Isabel twenty-one. This entirely untrue story has been repeated in many articles and prefaces which have been floating about lately. As for myself, I never thought it worth while to deny any of this gossip, but the surviving members of Isabel's family object to it and blame me for not having refuted it. I think there is nothing for me to do but to write a truthful and accurate story13 of that innocent visit (made on a summer afternoon), which was really very pleasant.

I know you do not like to admit unpleasant facts about anyone - and you prefer to turn them off with a joke, which is a comforting philosophy to live by. But you must admit that Ford Madox Ford was seldom able to tell the truth about anything. I found that out once during a long stay in London14. The Galsworthys15 warned me as to this failing of his, apropos of his yarns of about his intimacy with Conrad16. If the man is alive, I would not wish to say flatly that the original story was started by an irresponsible person.

Faithfully yours, Willa Cather