Annotations From the Archive: Soldiers' Letters

We conclude a year of reflection on Willa Cather's 1922 novel One of Ours by highlighting the letters that she received in response to her Pulitzer Prize-winning work.

After Grosvenor P. Cather’s death in France in May 1918, Willa Cather wasted little time in getting to work on telling her cousin's story. My Ántonia was set to be published in September of that year, and throughout the spring and summer of 1918, she worked on correcting proofs and placement of the illustrations. She enjoyed many wonderful reviews of My Ántonia, but by December she wrote to her editor, Ferris Greenslet, that she is at work on not one, but two books. One of those was a return to the Blue Mesa story, which had been set aside previously as Cather began My Ántonia, and the other was “the soldier story.” 

One of Ours was published on September 8, 1922. Within weeks, Cather was receiving letters, many of them from veterans of the Great War. As Cather frequently did, she kept her favorite letters and shared them with friends and family, particularly those who had offered encouragement and support as the book was created. The WCPM Manuscript Collection contains eight such letters, which likely spent at least some time filed—by Cather—in a special One of Ours envelope, which came into our collection separately.

Our holdings include the letters below, which come from the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Collection: