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Willa Cather Letters

Identifier: MSN/MN 3001

Scope and Contents

The two letters are unrelated. The first, a business letter, is addressed to an unidentified "Mr. Towne"; Cather turns down an apparent offer on his part to publish one of her works. The second letter, written much later, is a personal letter to Brother Emil Mohr, CSC, where Cather expresses her disenchantment with the current state of the world as well as her love of Latin. Entries for both letters can be found in A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Janis P. Stout (Lincoln and London: U. of Nebraska Press, 2002).


  • Creation: 1922, 1937


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born in Virginia, but as a child, moved with her family to a farm near Red Cloud, Nebraska, where she grew up among the immigrants who are the subjects of many of her novels. Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska, she accepted a position in Pittsburgh editing a new magazine, the Home Monthly. She spent ten years in Pittsburgh, pursuing a career in journalism as well as teaching English and Latin in high school. In 1906 at the age of 33, Cather accepted a position on the editorial staff of McClure's Magazine and moved to New York City where she spent the rest of her life. While serving her apprenticeship in journalism, she began publishing the short stories and the novels that have made her famous. She is best known for her works which are set in Nebraska, such books as: O Pioneers! (1913) and My Antonia (1918); however, her range is much greater than that of a regionalist. For example, one of her finest works is The Professor's House (1925), which is about a middle-aged professor of history, who becomes profoundly depressed by the materialism surrounding him. Other examples of her work that diverge from the "local color" of Nebraska are her later historical novels set in Virginia, Quebec, and the American southwest. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922 for One of Ours. Besides her ability to capture a sense of place, throughout her work Cather is a meticulous craftsman who developed a wonderfully clear prose style with an effective use of symbol and myth. She ranks among the major American authors of the 20th century.


2 folders; (2 items)

Language of Materials



Two unrelated letters written by the major American author Willa Cather (1873-1947). The first is to a "Mr. Towne" and is dated 17 November [1922]. The second is written to Brother Emil Mohr, CSC, and is dated 7 May 1937.


The collection consists of one series; materials are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Related Materials

Nearly 80 institutions hold Cather letters. The most important collections are those at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard University, the Willa Cather Foundation located in Red Cloud, Nebraska, the Nebraska State Historical Society, the University of Vermont, the Morgan Library, and Yale University. The most important book of published letters is: The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout (New York: Knopf, 2013).

Willa Cather Letters
Kenneth Kinslow
October 2013
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556