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#2609: Willa Cather to George M. Stimson, October 17 [1929]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ GS Dear Mr. Stimson1;

You are a violinist, put the mute on the biography—no the extinguisher! Anything more deadly dull than this jacket text, I can't imagine. It's all too foolish, and I really don't think it's up to the office to hand out these dull facts. They tell absolutely nothing about the book3, or about me, nothing that the public wants to know.

Now, I want you to let me decide on this jacket text. Tell the public something they do want know, something they write me letters about until my hand is fairly crippled with answering them; tell them something about how and why the book was written! That is what they want to know. Instead of this wooden stuff about my grandfathers4 and Von Schmidt's5 (who in thunder cares about our grandfathers?) use this condensation I enclose of my letter6 to the Commonweal7 about the book. The English publishers8 had that letter printed in pamphlet form and gave it wide circulation—wrote me it was singularly effective in advertising. I have cut the article to just about the number of words now in the two dreary sketches of Von Schmidt and me in the now on the jacket.

Please telegraph me9 that you will use the copy I'm sending you, and not that which is now in the proof of the jacket; and please write me the name of the person who wrote this copy, as I want to talk with her—I think or him—when I get back to town10.


Now as to the copy I send you—very ragged, but I'm lucky to have even that with me.

  • 1. Use quotes before each paragraph
  • 2. When the long cuts occur, please end the paragraph with asterisks.
  • 3. Please read the proofs yourself and telephone me if you're in doubt about anything.
Hastily, to catch the mail, Yours Willa Cather

Please note the change in the newspaper comment quoted. I beg you to use the11 one12 from the New Republic13 instead of that14 from the Baltimore Sun15.

Dear Miss Aaron16;

Please get all this to Mr. Stimson1, as I have telephoned him about it.

W. S. C.