My interest in life writing continues with Hermione Lee's excellent biography of Willa Cather. Although I've read a lot of Cather's fiction I don't know a great deal about her life. Cather preferred it that way, too, instructing that her private correspondence should be destroyed after her death.
A biography of Cather inevitably throws up the names of other grandes dames of American literature. Apparently Wharton and Cather were not mutually appreciative. Edith Wharton referred to Cather as the woman with the 'blurry name.' However, I'm delighted to discover that Cather was great friends with Sara Orne Jewett (who wrote The Country of the Pointed Firs) and Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The picture on the cover of Willa Cather - A Life Saved Up was taken when she was the managing editor of a newspaper. Imagine having to go to work in that get-up every day! Elegant, though.