The Bookkeeper's Wife
|"The Bookkeeper's Wife"|
|Published in||The Century Magazine|
|Publisher||The Century Company|
|Publication date||May 1916|
Percy Bixby, a bookkeeper, steals money from his company to pretend he earns $50 a week and seduce Stella Brown. Once, he visits her and they talk about their honeymoon; she seems pleased. She will marry him instead of Charles Gaygreen, who is wealthier.
Later, the new boss at his company notices Percy doesn't take holidays, and shies away from him. Percy ends up admitting he stole money before getting married. Back home, his wife wants to go to the theatre and he explains what has happened. She says she will take up work in Charles Greengay's company and stay with the Burks. Finally, Percy has moved into a boarding house and tells his boss he can pay him less for the debt to be paid back more quickly, as he doesn't need as much money any more.
- Percy Bixby, a bookkeeper.
- Stella Brown
- Mrs Brown, Stella's mother.
- Charles Greengay, a businessman.
- Oliver Remsey, Junior, Percy's new boss.
- Mrs Remsey, Oliver Remsey Junior's mother.
- Mr Melton, a lawyer.
- The Burks, friends of Stella's.
References to other works
- Percy is said to be reading James Bryce's The American Commonwealth.
Literary significance and criticism
The story has been singled out for portraying a "new woman", that is one who is financially independent.
Other critics have dismissed it as it was only written by Cather to earn money.
- Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction, 1915-29, University of Nebraska Press; Dec 1973, page 97
- Slote, Bernice, 'Introduction', Willa Cather, Uncle Valentine and Other Stories: Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Fiction, 1915-1929, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973, p. xi
- Bradford, Curtis, "Willa Cather's Uncollected Short Stories", American Literature, 1955, 26:546
- Stouck, David, Willa Cather's Imagination, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975, p.78