Yours Willa Cather

Coming Into Her Voice as a Writer

Listen to the 1912 Letter to Annie Adams Fields

Please note this audio is abridged.

June 27, 1912
Red Cloud

Dear Mrs. Fields:

     I am at home again with my family, and we are all having a very happy visit together. My mother had to go to Omaha for a surgical operation two months ago, but she recovered very virginia-cather.pngMary Virginia (Jennie) Cather, Willa Cather’s mother. rapidly and is now in splendid health. And so am I! Tomorrow I am going up into the Bohemian country for a week to see the wheat-harvest. That is always a splendid sight, and there is much merry-making among the people. They are a wild, fierce people, but very energetic and intelligent. I have known but one really dull Bohemian, and I have known a great many clever ones. You know [Richard] Wagner said that whenever he got dull he went to Prague. “There I renew my youth,” he wrote, “in that magical and volcanic soil of Bohemia.”

    You can scarcely imagine, in the cool shade of the home at Manchester, looking above the tree-tops at the ocean, what torrid weather I am tasting here. The whole great wheat country fairly glows, and you can smell the ripe wheat as if it were bread baking. But the nights are cool, and just now the full moon makes an enchantment over everything. I have been motoring about the country with my father almost every day, but when I go up into the Bohemian township I shall drive, and saunter about from farm to farm in the old-fashioned way.

    Please send a card to me here and tell me how the summer has gone with you so far. I long to tell you about wonderful Arizona. I really learned there what [Honoré de] Balzac meant when he said “In the desert there is everything and nothing—God without mankind.”

    My heart to you, my dearest Lady, and many, many loving thoughts.


I expect to spend August in Pittsburg with Miss McClung.

Read the Story Behind the Letter

Read the Story Behind the Letter

Annie Adams Fields was 74 years old when Willa Cather met her, and the older woman gave Cather a connection to the rich literary past of the United States.