Since her death, Willa Cather seems to have been appointed an honorary lesbian. The honor may seem a dubious one, from several points of view, and the lesbianism is itself by no means as free from doubt as such things ought to be. Yet literary criticism and biography, unshackled by cheap doubt, march on. In a book by Jane Rule entitled Lesbian Images, Willa Cather’s life supplies a chapter. In a piece entitled “Nocturnal Turnings” in his book Music for Chameleons, Truman Capote describes encountering Willa Cather in 1942 at the New York Society Library on East Seventy-ninth Street: “Occasionally, I saw a woman there whose appearance rather mesmerized me—her eyes especially: blue, the pale brilliant cloudless blue of prairie skies. But even without this singular feature, her face was interesting—firm-jawed, handsome, a bit androgynous. Pepper-salt hair parted in the...


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