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Cather, Willa.

April Twilights.


Inscribed To Cather's Early Literary Mentor
Cather, Willa. April Twilights. Poems by Willa Sibert Cather. Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1903.
Tall, thin 8vo.; bookplate on front pastedown; dark wheat paper-covered boards, label on front cover and spine; spine worn, label partially detached.   
First edition of Cather's first book, a vanity press collection of poetry. A remarkable association copy, inscribed by Cather to one of her first literary mentors: Will Mrs. Peattie accept this as a reminder of my gratitude to her for her many kind offices to me, and of my admiration for and pride in her work! Willa Sibert Cather July Third 1903. With the bookplate of Robert Burns Peattie on the front pastedown.
The rarity of April Twilights can be attributed, at least in part, to its author's dislike of her inaugural volume: Cather was never happy with April Twilights and attempted alternately to suppress and rewrite it throughout her lifetime, in an attempt "to make the collection conform to the course her fiction was taking." O'Brien relates:
She deleted some of the more derivative poems and added a few new ones that drew on familial, personal, or Western roots. In the 1923 edition-entitled April Twilights and Other Poems-she included "the Swedish Mother," "Spanish Johnny," "Prairie Spring," "Macon Prairie," and "Going Home," and in a 1933 reissue she added "Poor Mary." She retained all of these in the Library Edition, but was evidently still not pleased enough with the volume as a whole to place April Twilights in Volume I [of her Collected Works]. (Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice, Vol. 2, by Sharon O'Brien, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 261)
Elia W. Peattie was a nationally known columnist for the Omaha World-Herald who befriended Cather as she was making her initial foray into journalism. In 1895-when Cather was only 22-Peattie prophesied that the young author was "destined to win a reputation for herself" in literary history; this glowing recommendation was no doubt among the "kind offices" to which Cather refers in her grateful inscription. A touchingly inscribed copy documenting a formative literary relationship, of a book rarely found with a contemporary presentation.

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