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#1819: Willa Cather to Edward D. McDonald, February 21, 1923

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I am ashamed to confess how little I know about physical make-up of any of my books. I haven't even a first edition4 of "O Pioneers!"5, but I remember that it was bound in ribbed cloth, about the color of a mustard plaster, and very ugly. Later it was put out in a darker cloth6 and was, I thought, a distinctly better looking book thatn that first issued. I have not one at hand to consult, but that is my impression. It is this second printing which is now on the market.

The "Song of the Lark"7 was first issued8 in a rough blue cloth,- not exactly ribbed, but a cross-weave. I haven't a copy of the first edition of that either, I find. I have only copies of the English editions of those two books9, because I thought them much better looking than the American editions.

I think the total printing10 of "The Troll Garden"11 was not more than 1,200 copies. I assure you it is no fault of mine that the new edition12 of "April Twilights"13 is to be sold at such a shocking price. I, too, am sensible to expense,but as you have probably gathered, I am not sensible to first editions, since I haven't them of my own books. I suppose it's no use telling a collector that the two-dollar edition will be just as good!


I don't believe Professor Phelps14 and I could possible agree on any book. A few years ago I couldn't help calling attention to some of the amazingly stupid things he was glibly spinning off about Russian literature15, and I don't believe he liked it. It's amusing that a man should appoint himself a specialist upon a literature written in a language of which he doesn't know a word; a perfectly childish performance.

I must ask your indulgence for this long delay. I have been out16 of town2 and have had to neglect many things. And now I am able to give you very little information.

Sincerely yours Willa Sibert Cather

I find that the second binding of "O Pioneers!" is a seal-brown, rough cloth, stamped in orange.

Mr. Edward D. McDonald1 The Drexel Institute Philadelphia17 Penn. New York, N.Y. 32 FEB 21 1923 9-PM