With her deep interest in Italian literature, it was natural for Kay to get into personal contact with authors.
On what may have been her first visit to Italy, in 1933, she met the Roman dialect writer Trilussa: he gave her a copy of
one of his books, Pulviscolo: Aneddoti Trilussiani (Formiggini, 1931), and inscribed it “all’amabilissima Caterina” ("to the very sweet Katharine"). Trilussa also gave her an authorisation to translate and publish
those of his poems which would be submitted to him. He added a note (perhaps in jest) that she should translate them "in dialetto
cockney" (“in Cockney dialect”).
Soon after arriving in Sicily in 1946, she bought a copy of the novel by the modernist Sicilian writer Elio Vittorini:
Conversazione in Sicilia (Conversation in Sicily), for which he had been jailed by the fascists
when it was first published in 1941. She was soon in touch with Vittorini who was now editing the
journal Il Politechnico in Milan.
Among Kay's papers is a very full autobiographical account which he wrote at Kay’s request. She had sent a list of questions to Vittorini about his life and work, intending to use the answers in an article about
him. Vittorini read her article and approved of it but there is no surviving record of where it was published.
Kay visited Vittorini and his wife several times and attempted to arrange with the London publisher Lindsay Drummond
for the translation of Conversazione in Sicilia. (It was published in 1948 but with a different translator).
Vittorini sent her books in Palermo, both his own and others’. In a copy of Romano Bilenchi, Conservatorio di Santa
Teresa (1940), he wrote “conosce questo libro? E gia piuttosto vecchio
ma io lo trovo sempre molto buono” ("Do you know this book? It's already
quite old but I think it's very good").
At some later stage Kay was in touch with Alberto Moravia, who provided her with a brief sketch of his life.
The books referred to above, together with others from her large collection of modern Italian novels and poetry, and a
typescript copy of Vittorini’s autobiography, have been given to the library of Girton College, Cambridge.