Dear Julie,

From the work I have done with Cather’s typescripts, it is my impression that this was really a matter of publisher styling, not of her own personal preference. In the typescripts for the Obscure Destinies stories, for example, the “u” is inserted throughout by the red pen of a Knopf copyeditor. It is not in early typescripts she produced herself or in the later Bloom typings.

I don’t believe she used “ou” rather than “o” in letters.


Melissa J. Homestead
Professor of English and Program Faculty in Women’s & Gender Studies
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
202 Andrews Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0333
(402) 472-0323 (direct dial)
[log in to unmask]

On Apr 5, 2016, at 9:10 AM, Olin-Ammentorp, Julie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear 5 Bank Streeters,

I'm trying to locate a solid source that states that Cather preferred British spellings to American spellings, but so far have come a cropper. Online I found the Bernice Slote edition of Uncle Valentine and Other Stories, which states that “In ‘Coming, Eden Bower!’ Willa Cather for the first time used the English spelling in words like ‘neighbour’” (183), but felt this was inconclusive. I checked the textual essay in the Scholarly Edition of Youth and the Bright Medusa, which confirms the substitution of English spelling for American in this book (470, 478), but does not indicate that this was Cather’s personal preference; on the contrary, it may have been house style (470). I checked Woodress on the publication of YBM, and found lots of publishing details, but nothing about Cather's spelling preferences; I also checked the online Calendar of Letters to see if I could find anything, but had no luck; the same with re-reading some key letters in the print Cather Letters, though it may be there someplace.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. Please feel free to tell me, too, if I'm fabricating the idea of "Cather preferred English spellings" because it fits an argument I'm making!

Thanks so much.

Julie Olin-Ammentorp

Julie Olin-Ammentorp
Dept. of English
Le Moyne College
1419 Salt Springs Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13214
[log in to unmask]