English, Department of


Date of this Version



Cather Studies (2010) 8: 325-352.


Copyright 2010, University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Used by permission.


On 26 August 1915 the New York Times reported the spectacle of two "Women Editors" who became "Lost in Colorado Canon" as a "Result of Trip with Inexperienced Guide." "Miss Willa Sibert Cather, a former editor of McClure's Magazine, and Miss Edith Lewis, assistant editor at Every Week, had a nerve-racking experience in the Mesa Verde wilds," they reported, giving Lewis and Cather roughly equivalent status as magazine professionals and comic fodder ("Lost"). The war in Europe was still far away for most Americans that August, although the sinking of the Lusitania in May had inched the conflict closer. In July, Cather had been scheduled to travel to Europe with S. S. McClure to interview European leaders about the war; however, nearing the end of her long and gradual turn away from magazine editing and journalistic writing to full-time fiction writing, she regretfully surrendered the financial rewards and prospects of adventure the European trip presented (Woodress 262). Although her fiction continued to appear in magazines and she wrote occasional cultural commentary, the canceling of the European trip with McClure marked a definitive shift in Cather's career—with the exception of one article in the Red Cross Magazine in 1919, Cather engaged the war as subject matter only in fiction.