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#1979: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, June 17, 1937

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My dear Sister1:

I sent you a check3 yesterday, and today I have your nice letter written Sunday; such a cheerful pleasant letter that I feel I must get a few words off to you. One reason why I have been so busy and harassed for the last six months is, that Houghton Mifflin are getting out a complete uniform edition4 of all my books, beautifully designed by Bruce Rogers5, who has for many years been recognized as the leading designer in this country6 and in England7. (He has just left New York2 for England, where he is to design and execute the great Oxford Bible8.) The autographed edition is limited to 770 sets9, each set containing twelve books, to be sold at $10 a volume, and sold in sets only. There will also be a cheaper library edition10 of about 750 sets, to be sold at $3.50 per volume, and an English edition of 1,000 sets.

Alfred Knopf11 has no subscription department at all, and this is done with his agreement and by his advice. All the old books were full of frightful errors of taste on my part, and many errors on the part of the proof readers. (Of course, all future books will be published by Knopf first, then added to the subscription edition at the same cost per volume.) There is not a great deal of money in it for either Alfred or me, and I held the proposition off for two years, but Alfred Knopf thought I had better get it done and over. The correspondence and detail attending this job have given me an uninteresting and profitless winter. It is still hanging on, and I will not be really through with it before the first of August. That is the chief reason why I cannot go to Red Cloud12 this summer, much as I would love to go.

I have had to cut out a great many pleasant things besides cutting out a visit to you and to Red Cloud. I am enclosing an invitation13 from the Carnegie Corporation, which I had to refuse because I really feel too tired to take a trip of that kind. I would have to meet a great many people, and you know that always tires me. I urged Mr. Keppel14, who is a very charming person, to send Thornton Wilder15 in my stead. He asked Wilder, and Wilder accepted. He will do us credit. He speaks beautiful French and Italian, and he is a gentleman and a scholar. Besides, he loves being in crowds of people. Of course, this is rather a secret. I hope Wilder thinks he was the first choice, but I would like you to know that I had such an invitation, and I would like Carrie16 and Mary17 to know.

Your letter is full of so many cheerful things, that I wish I could answer it more fully. Oh, I do hope it won't be hot, and that you will have one more summer in the dear little town we used to know.! If you don't go travelling, I hope you will use my check to have some good woman come in to do the housework for you. It is awfully foolish for you to do it yourself.

I will write you about the various nieces when I have more time. I really am very well pleased with all the nieces I know "personally". Please tell Mary Creighton that nothing that has happened to me this winter (and some nice things have happened) has given me any more pleasure than her two lovely letters. They seemed, somehow, so full of things and people I remember. I still have them both, and have read them over many times. Mary Virginia18 enjoyed them too.

With love to you and all our old friends, Willie