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#2171: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, August 26 [1940]

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My Dear Roscoe1;

What a darling granddaughter5 you have! Tell dear Elizabeth6 that everyone at Whale Cove Cottage2 is delighted to see a picture of her little daughter and they send their love to her.

Last week I wrote the last chapter of "Sapphira and the Slave Girl"3. (It had been hand-written three times before, but this time I did copied it off on the machine in final form) and telegraphed Knopf7. I enclose his reply8, which you may mail back to me.

"Sapphĭra" is pronounced with a short "i", as in Madeira, Zamira etc. It is not the Bible9 "Sapphīra" with long "i", but an old English name named from the Bible name, with the "i" made short.

I will write you when I get back to a comfortable typewriter. The old one I keep up here year after year is the same old machine I bought for $30.00 in Cheyenne10 that summer I was there11 with you and Douglass12 (we got it from a fellow who was dead broke, you remember.) All my early books were typed on it.) I always write a book through the first time by hand. This book I have written twice by hand—some chapters of it three or and even four times. It is technically the most 3 difficult book I ever wrote, and it has had very hard luck. I've tried an experiment in form which most people will not like, and which, I admit, rather gives the show away. The fact, (which only a very few people will notice) is that in this care there is a concealed show behind the first show. This second show, af coming on the stage in the Ep Epilogue, is the reason for, and the authority for, the first show. Without that literal account of something that happened to me when I was between five and six years old, the whole book would be constructed, not lived, like a hundred other stories of the 4 south and of slavery: the old costumes, the old high-stepping language and "mansions," the old Uncle Remus dialect. This is bu true Virginia13 negro speech, which was a much modified "Uncle Remus"14 talk. When I began the story that speech was in my brain like a phonograph record. I hadn't a moment's hesitation. I Half-way through the story I went South15 to verify it. Not with a note-book my ear is my notebook—it is the only one I have ever carried.

Please save this scrawl until you read the book. I have not written a word of comment or explanation to anyone else about the book. You are the only one in my family who cares a damn. I never used to mind that, 5 but as one grows older one wishes there were some one of one's blood kin who was deeply interested. However, better no one than the wrong kind16 like those poor D. H. Lawrence17 left behind him. Barrie18 and Thomas Hardy19, thank God, left no "representatives" but their own books,—and that is best. You can't keep your cake and eat it too.

I'm tired, so I'm writing foolishness—so excuse

Lovingly W
[missing]Cather North Head Grand Manan2 N. B. Canada [missing]Bead [missing]Agent Grand Manan N.B.2 Mr. R. C. Cather,1 First Savings Bank of Colusa, COLUSA4 California U.S.A. NORTH HEAD N. B.2 August 28, 1940 AM about Sapphira3Personal