[Editor's note: The following are the preface and acknowledgments written by John March for what he called his Handbook of Willa Cather. Beneath them is his key to the symbols that follow each entry, identifying the source or sources of the entries in this book.]
The handbook is made up of the allusions, persons, and quotations in Willa Cather's writings that were published in books and magazines after her graduation from the University of Nebraska in 1895. Only those writings that are signed with her name or initials have been considered. Certain categories of passing allusions have not been included, such as trees, cultivated plants, continents, countries, states of the United States, illustrators of Miss Cather's works, and domesticated animals. Certain other passing allusions for which adequate explanations are readily available in an unabridged dictionary or standard American encyclopedia have been listed in an appendix, along with foreign phrases and their translations. [Editor's note: John March's lengthy appendix is available for perusal at the Cather foundation in Red Cloud, Nebraska.]
The entries appear as written and spelled by Miss Cather. They are filed alphabetically, letter by letter. Initial articles are not considered in alphabetizing, and numerals are entered as if spelled out. The entries have been made as definite as possible: That is, "Wild Larkspur" is entered as "Larkspur," but "Red Bugs" is entered under "Red Bugs." Given names with descriptive adjectives are entered under the name, followed by the adjective: as, "Tom, Black." Persons alluded to by a general term and a descriptive adjective are entered under the adjective: as, "Amorous Prince."
All works of literature, art, and music, as well as allusions to these, are listed alphabetically under the author, artist, or composer, if they are mentioned by Miss Cather. Allusions for which the author's name is not mentioned but does appear in the handbook are referred by cross-reference to the author. No cross-reference is given for the others. Quotations are entered first under the author and then under the work. Cross-references are made when deemed necessary. If authors' or composers' names do not appear in the handbook, the works are entered under their titles (or, if no title is given, by the quotation or allusion that appears in the text) and