I never planned to write another biography of Cather, but after the death in 1983 of Bernice Slote, who had spent nearly a lifetime gathering material for the definitive biography, I decided to return to the project, and I have been able to use her papers.
My present view of Cather does not change in any basic way the image of her contained in my earlier book.
Hundreds of pages of Cather's journalistic writings have been dug from the dusty magazine and newspaper files where they first appeared and republished.
All of her stories have been collected, including many she gladly would have expunged from the record if she could have.
Lewis's memoir, which was prepared for the use of E. Brown, is, of course, of immense assistance, as it was the work of a friend of more than forty years.
Brown's biography is the pioneering life, and when he died before completing his book, the very able Leon Edel finished it for him.
Sir Isaac Newton in a letter to his rival scientist Robert Hooke wrote in 1676 that "if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." I feel somewhat the same in writing Cather's biography four decades after her death.
I have built on the work of many scholars, as my notes will indicate, and without their pioneering this book could not have been written.
Virginia Faulkner and the University of Nebraska Press carried out a large publishing venture in making Cather's early work available, and William Curtin, editor of , two volumes of Cather's journalistic writings, is the benefactor of all Cather scholars.
There are, fortunately, enough letters and contemporary documents, such as interviews and reminiscences of friends, to corroborate many events in her life that have passed through the crucible of her imagination to emerge in her stories and novels.
My notes make it clear when I am working from letters and when I am drawing on her fiction.
She turned her own life and experiences into literature to a degree uncommon among writers.
I have used many passages from her fiction to document her life, keeping in mind constantly the need for caution.