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#2191: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, February 19, 1942

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My dear Brother1:

After little Margaret's4 coming away I think you will need something jolly to cheer you up, so I am sending you a very jolly book5 by about Winston Churchill6. This book is absolutely authentic. It was proof-read by one of Churchill's relatives and by an old friend of mine – Dr. Leach7, editor of the Forum8. The young woman9 is very truthful and has a good reputation. I have a copy of the book for myself, but as it was a gift I did not wish to send it to anyone, so I ordered a copy for you and found that it was great fun to read it over again. As I went along I marked the passages which make me chuckle, because it seemed, almost, that by doing so I was reading it with you. I believe those same passages will make you and Meta10 chuckle. You know I am by nature rather given to hero-worship, and I haven't had a real hero for a long time until Winston came along. I have been his devout admirer ever since I read his great life of Marlborough11, in five huge volumes. It is certainly the finest biography or historical work that has appeared in my lifetime. I consider him simply the best living English writer. The great writers must have great vitality. They can have nearly every other gift, but lacking vitality they remain mediocre.

I've never told you how we opened your bottle of Benedictine on my birthday, and what a rich treasure it is to have. It is the real thing as I used to have it in Normandy12. It has certainly vanished from the face of the earth, for Hitler's13 troops have absorbed or sent home every bottle of rare wine in France14, and I fear there will be no more made in our lifetime.

I am overwhelmed with mail just now, but I must get one word to you and I must send the book by Churchill before it gets cold on my hands.

Lovingly to you both, Willie
Mr. R. C. Cather1, First Savings Bank of Colusa, Colusa3, California. NEW YORK, N. Y.2 FEB 19 1942 3 PM