The final version of “Courtship” comprises excerpts from roughly 300 letters. “One of the greatest challenges was deciding which subplots and minor characters to leave on the cutting room floor,” writes author and editor Martha Fitzgerald. “But I made sure to keep some lovely little gems.

“Here’s one of my favorites. It’s about little Catherine, one of Mother’s pediatric patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.”

Today she climbed up on the desk where I was writing night orders and said, ‘Dr. Baker, I love you with all my heart, my liver, and my stomach.’ Now how do you like that for a declaration of love!