Yours Willa Cather

I must dress to receive the Planets

Listen to the 1936 Letter to Edith Lewis

Sunday 4:30 P.M. [October 4, 1936] Letter from Willa Cather to Edith LewisThe only known letter from Willa Cather to her partner Edith Lewis.
Shattuck Inn, Jaffrey, New Hampshire

My Darling Edith;

     I am sitting in your room, looking out on the woods you know so well. So far everything delights me. I am ashamed of my appetite for food, and as for sleep—I had forgotten that sleeping can be an active and very strong physical pleasure. It can! It has been for all of three nights. I wake up now and then, saturated with the pleasure of breathing clear mountain air (not cold, just chill air) of being up high with all the woods below me sleeping, too, in still white moonlight. It’s a grand feeling.

    One hour from now, out of your window, I shall see a sight unparalleled—Jupiter and Venus both shining in the golden-rosy sky and both in the West; she not very far above the horizon, and he about mid-way between the zenith and the silvery lady planet. From 5:30 to 6:30 they are of a superb splendor—deepening in color every second, in a still-daylight-sky guiltless of other stars, the moon not up and the sun gone down behind Gap-mountain; those two alone in the whole vault of heaven. It lasts so about an hour (did last night). Then the Lady, so silvery still, slips down into the clear rose colored glow to be near the departed sun, and imperial Jupiter hangs there alone. He goes down about 8:30. Surely it reminds one of Dante’s “eternal wheels”. I can’t but believe that all that majesty and all that beauty, those fated and unfailing appearances and exits, are something more than mathematics and horrible temperatures. If they are not, then we are the only wonderful things—because we can wonder.

Willa Cather and Edith LewisWilla Cather and Edith Lewis     I have worn my white silk suit almost constantly with no white hat, which is very awkward. By next week it will probably be colder. Everything you packed carried wonderfully—not a wrinkle.

    And now I must dress to receive the Planets, dear, as I won’t wish to take the time after they appear—and they will not wait for anybody.


I don’t know when I have enjoyed Jupiter so much as this summer.

Read the Story Behind the Letter

Read the Story Behind the Letter

Willa Cather and Edith Lewis shared a home together for nearly forty years. They met in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1903 when Cather was visiting from Pittsburgh.