Read Willa Cather's Gorgeous, Ethereal Love Letter to Her Partner

Read Willa Cather's Gorgeous, Ethereal Love Letter to Her Partner
Sunnivie Brydum

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather was infamously private, according to a website that just published some scintillating excerpts from The Selected Letters of Willa Cather. Although she was a prolific writer of texts, poems, and letters, Cather burned most of her correspondence to keep it from seeing publication, according to

In addition to being a prolific author, Cather was a well-known and almost out lesbian. She spent the last 40 years of her life living with her partner, Edith Lewis, who became her literary executor when Cather died more than 65 years ago.  In fact, Cather was so prominent that SheWired featured Cather in our list of 11 Historic Women We Wish We Could Bring to The Dinah — hence the photo above of Cather getting ready to test out the "Shake Weight" with some fellow lady-loving-ladies.

In the letter, Cather flexes her prowess for vivid, imagery-laden prose, describing the cosmos with language that's downright steamy. 

Cather opens by telling her "Darling Edith," that's she writing from inside Edith's bedroom, where she had "forgotten that sleeping can be an active and very strong physical pleasure." I'd bet there are other iterations of "sleeping" that might elicit even more strong physical pleasures.

Keeping with the juicy metaphors, Cather continues: "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."

Launching into some lovely poetic prose about the infinite Cosmos, Cather personifies the planets in a similarly decadent way. Describing Venus as "the silvery lady planet," she writes: "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. 

Turning to the practical, Cather also takes a moment to thank her love for packing her suitcase, although she laments that she has yet to have a chance to wear the white hat her partner packed. "I have worn my white silk suit almost constantly with no white hat, which is very awkward," writes Cather. "By next week it will probably be colder. Everything you packed carried wonderfully — not a wrinkle.

Cather signs the letter, "Lovingly, W." Read the entire letter at

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