This month’s story for the Willa Cather Short Story Project is “Jack-a-Boy,” first published in The Saturday Evening Post on March 30, 1901. What a nice coincidence that we’re reading it in March.
You can read “Jack-a-Boy” over on the Willa Cather Archive: https://cather.unl.edu/writings/shortfiction/ss017
The gist of the story is that the little boy moves into a boarding house and warms everyone’s hearts, and then . . . well, that would be a spoiler.
Cather was very fond of her youngest brother, Jack, who was almost twenty years younger than her. He was eight when this story was published, and scholars agree that it reflects Cather’s feelings for her younger brother.
The illustrations by Elizabeth Shippen Green are a delight. In a letter to Dorothy Canfield, Cather wrote that they are “most satisfying illustrations and so like my little brother that they gave me a turn” (The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, page 59).
Here’s a screenshot of the other two illustrations by Green that accompany “Jack-a-Boy.” Check out the story and illustrations at the HathiTrust Digital Library.
Read “Jack-a-Boy” sometime this month and come back to discuss it on the response post I’ll share on March 22, the fourth Wednesday of the month. Or, feel free to read it now and comment here if you can’t wait until then!
New to this blog? Learn more about the Willa Cather Short Story Project here. In a nutshell, we read one Cather short story a month. I remind everyone of what story we’re reading on the second Wednesday of the month and then share a response on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Jump in anytime!
[…] I mentioned in the reminder post, Cather based this little boy in part on her youngest brother, Jack, of whom she was very fond and […]