Yours, Willa Cather
Air Date: 09/21/2015
In 2005, we produced Willa Cather—The Road is All, an American Masters biography of one of America’s greatest writers. The film opens with letters being tossed into a fireplace over the words, “Before her death Cather burned most of her letters. She asked her friends to do the same.” Until recently most scholars believed that to be true. Not so.
Yours, Willa Cather is a 30-minute documentary inspired by the recently published Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andy Jewell and Janis Stout. This controversial book (named one of the top 10 non-fiction books of 2013 by Time Magazine) was made possible by the simple fact that many of Willa Cather’s letters survived—hidden away in drawers, trunks and archives. In her will, Cather expressly forbid publishing or even quoting from her letters. But though they admit they defied Cather’s will, Jewell and Stout don’t see their book as a betrayal. They simply followed the lead of Cather’s family, who released a flood of letters after keeping them safe for over 60 years.
Everyone seemed to feel it was time. Time to meet Willa Cather—the person.