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#2974: Willa Cather to Jean Speiser, [November 1944]

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My Dear Miss Speiser1:

I have been out of town during the month of October and have not had an earlier opportunity to consider your letter.

In the letter3 which I wrote you from Maine4, I tried to state my position fully, and it would be a waste of your time and mine to take up the matter again. I have really nothing more to say. I can understand that you wish to make photographs of Nebraska5, but I do not see how you can reasonably expect me to assist you in this. “My Antonia”6, the book to which you refer, was written twenty-five years ago, and was an attempt to recall the impressions of childhood. The scene was presented in the kindly light of memory. The characters were types rather than individuals: some were entirely imaginary, some were composites7, and some were affectionate portraits of people8 who had long been dead when I wrote the book. Please accept this as a definite and final refusal of your enthusiastic invitation.

Evidently, Miss Speiser, you wish very much to make photographs of Nebraska, and you wish to make something rather picturesque. I wonder why you have not selected Mari Sandoz’9 book, “Old Jules”10? Miss Sandoz comes from a more picturesque part of the State11 than was the little farming community12 in which I grew up, and her book deals with a pioneer stage of development in the State. I have never met Miss Sandoz, but if she would collaborate with you, I think her book would make a good background for photographs of western Nebraska.

With kinest personal regards, believe me
Very cordially yours,
Willa Cather

P.S. Photographs are being returned under separate cover.