The Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) is hosting a new series of Virtual Book Talks. This installment features Melissa J. Homestead, who will present on her recent book The Only Wonderful Things: The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis (Oxford University Press 2021).
What would Willa Cather's widely read and cherished novels have looked like if she had never met magazine editor and copywriter Edith Lewis? In this groundbreaking book on Cather's relationship with her life partner, author Melissa J. Homestead counters the established portrayal of Cather as a solitary genius and reassesses the role that Lewis, who has so far been rendered largely invisible by scholars, played in shaping Cather's work. Inviting Lewis to share the spotlight alongside this pivotal American writer, Homestead argues that Lewis was not just Cather's companion but also her close literary collaborator and editor.
Drawing on an array of previously unpublished sources, Homestead skillfully reconstructs Cather and Lewis's life together, from their time in New York City to their travels in the American Southwest that formed the basis of the novels The Professor's House and Death Comes for the Archbishop. After Cather's death and in the midst of the Cold War panic over homosexuality, the story of her life with Edith Lewis could not be told, but by telling it now, Homestead offers a refreshing take on lesbian life in early twentieth-century America.
The Virtual Book Talk Series showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes an informal presentation from the author and a Q&A with the audience. These talks are streamed live for registered participants and are recorded for posterity. Talks typically last 45 minutes.
Information on future PHBAC book talks may be found at https://www.americanantiquarian.org/virtual-book-talks.